A Demon Lord's Tale: Dungeons, Monster Girls, and Heartwarming Bliss Chapter 159-162
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
My surroundings were filled with naught but noise. The streets were crowded, and the people that filled them continued to shout and laugh as they basked in the city’s celebratory atmosphere.
“Wow…” Enne, whose hand I held, opened her eyes wide as we moved through the city. She was so impressed by how lively it was that she couldn’t help but raise her voice in admiration.
“I know, right? Seems like the king was right. This place is looking pretty festival-like right about now,” I said in a tone indicative of my good mood.
The demon realm’s capital was bustling with so much energy that a single glance was enough for me to feel the excitement radiating from its people. As could be assumed from the sight that lay before us, it had been five days since I spoke to the demon king about what I was going to do for him.
We had finished getting everything ready and set out in order to make our way over to the arena. As we had already spent a decent amount of time wading our way through the streets, we were already almost there. One of the things I had noticed was that every single person that had ventured out of their homes was wearing either a smile or some other expression of joy and excitement. This, of course, included more than just the people wandering the streets. Those looking to profit off of them felt the same way. Countless stalls had been opened up by aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike. The shopkeepers advertised their products by shouting at everyone that walked by. Their merry cries only served to add to the already vibrant atmosphere.
I had sensed a gradual buildup over the past few days. The capital had slowly gotten noisier as more people rolled in. But today, today was different. Everyone’s excitement had suddenly spiked all at once. A part of me was surprised. I had thought that the demon realm was in a situation that wouldn’t have allowed for its people to kick back and relax the way they did. But apparently, I was wrong. And I was fine with that. As far as I was concerned, this was just how festivals had to be.
Logically speaking, it did make sense. Unlike the world I used to live in, this one was suffering from a severe lack of entertainment. People were starved for it. Events like this one were so rare, so few and far between that everyone who was anyone would do their best to enjoy them.
“Does that mean you’ve taken part in festivals before, My Lord?”
I gave a vague, non-committal answer while smiling to gloss the topic over before turning towards the agent left in charge of us and asking her a question. “So, Agent McH-, er, Haloria, what exactly did you say we needed to do again?”
“You need to speak with the arena’s staff and complete your registration at the front desk. Unfortunately, we are unable to exert our influence on the tournament itself, so we have no idea as to who you will be fighting. Match placement is completely random, and the event’s staff will be responsible for guiding you through the rest of the process.”
“Alright, works. And I think you guys said something about the preliminaries being like some sort of battle royale or something?”
“That is correct,” said Haloria. “It is a fifty person free for all. The last three left standing are permitted to participate in the rest of the tournament. With your strength, surviving the preliminaries should be a breeze.”
Welp. Time to give it my all and see where it gets me.
“Some of our subordinates have mingled in with the tournament’s staff. We will be happy to assist you, so please ring the bell you were given whenever you wish to call for us. Someone will see to you as soon as possible.”
“You’re talking about the bell that doesn’t actually make any noise when I ring it, right?”
Like the ring, the bell I was given was an item imbued with magical properties. It wasn’t capable of carrying out a regular bell’s primary feature, but it could release mana at a very specific frequency. Man, the demon king sure does have a whole bunch of cool stuff. Though I guess it’s only natural seeing as how he’s literally in charge of a whole country.
We spent a few more minutes walking and talking as we moved down the main street before finally arriving at the arena. The building was large, round, and for some odd reason, reminded me of the baseball stadiums we had back on Earth. The town had been noisy. But the stadium was even noisier. There were tonnes of people packed into the area. Though some of them were armed, they were all standing in neat lines. Man, seeing people with their weapons and armour out standing around all civilized and shit is pretty weird. Seriously. This shit’s surreal as fuck.
Standardization apparently wasn’t something that demons cared much for. People were holding all sorts of different weapons. One example was a broom with its bristles replaced with needles, and another was a scythe with a hammer on the other end of its snath. It was almost as if each race had its own unique selection of equipment; the line was filled with all sorts of different people wearing and holding all sorts of different things. All in all, the resulting scene almost appeared to be chaotic and disorganized in nature despite the orderly line the warriors stood in. Is this really supposed to be a martial arts tournament? Looks more like a weapons exhibition or trade show to me. Not that I’ve really got the right to actually say anything seeing as how I’ve got myself a Japanese-style sword with a big ass blade.
“Oh yeah, I should probably get myself disguised before I see the receptionist, huh?” I said. “Sorry Leila, but I’m going to have to ditch you. Make sure you use the thing I gave you to get yourself back to the dungeon if something happens.” I reminded her of the necklace in an indirect manner in order to throw off any would-be eavesdroppers.
“Of course, My Lord,” nodded the maid in understanding.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t be seen together in public after I put on my disguise in order to stop people from making the connection between me and the alter ego I had devised for the sake of the operation.
“Well, Haloria, it looks like it’s going to have to be your job to keep Leila safe while I’m out. I know she’s kinda famous and whatnot, so make sure no one ends up bugging her too much, alright?”
“Don’t worry, you will be leaving her in good hands,” said the secret agent. “I’ll keep her safe even if it means putting my life on the line.”
Her words caused a sweatdrop to appear on the back of my head. Yeah uh… she’s totally just going to warp out if she gets into any trouble, so you should also probably focus on getting yourself to safety.
“That looks like it would probably be a good spot to change.” The agent pointed me to a piece of cover I could probably use to get out of sight. I followed her prompt and headed over with Enne whilst checking my surroundings both by looking at my map and by actively focusing on my enemy detection skill. Only after I was completely sure that we were out of sight did I make use of the Ring of Transfiguration and grab the mask I had stored away in my inventory.
My new mask was quite different from the one I had worn back when I was helping the humans. This one didn’t so much resemble a clown as it did the mask worn by the molecular manipulator known as the black reaper. Oh wait, it’s missing the thunderbolt that’s supposed to be running through one of the eyes.
Leaving the mask as nothing but a blank slate with eyeholes and a fake mouth made it seem a bit too creepy for my tastes, so I ended up embedding a random star-shaped gem just under its left eyehole. Like basically every other fancy thing I had picked up in the demon realm, it was something I had gotten from its king. He had casually handed it to me without a care in the world the moment I asked for it. Man, Iunno if it’s just me, but he seems hella loaded.
Like everything else I made with Weapon Transmutation, the mask was a weapon. Technically speaking, it was a boomerang, just a dysfunctional one. I could totally throw it at someone and use it to hurt them, but it probably wouldn’t ever turn around, let alone come back. Not that it really matters. I’m probably never actually going to throw this thing, so yeah.
While the clown mask came in a pair, I only had one reaper mask. I didn’t make a second with the mouth area exposed this time around because it wasn’t necessary for me to keep the artificial face on at all times.
“Okay, looks like I’m just about ready to be seen in public.” I said before turning to the sword girl by my side. “I’m sorry you have to miss the festival, Enne. How about I make up to you by letting you pick what we do in the evening?”
“Okay,” nodded the kimono-clad weapon. “And I don’t mind, Master. Anything is okay as long as we’re together.”
She spoke a series of words that made me extremely happy whilst allowing the slightest bit of shyness to tinge upon her usually expressionless face. Ermagawd. Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Don’t actually answer it.
“Thanks, Enne. I like spending time with you too.” I smiled and patted her on the head as I spoke. “Could you do me a favour and go back to possessing your main body?”
“Okay.” She nodded and touched the weapon I held in front of her. And as she did, she disappeared. It almost looked like she had fused with it the moment she and it made contact.
I hoisted her over my shoulders and sighed after confirming that the process was over. “Welp. Leggo.”
I arrived at the desk after sitting through the line. There, I was greeted by a receptionist that seemed to belong to one of the demonic races—she had both a tail and a pair of horns. “Good morning, sir. If you’re here to complete the signup process, then please present the document you were given at the time of your initial registration.”
I handed her the card that served as the proof of my registration.
“Please give me just one second to confirm the details.” The receptionist paused to look over the documents. She stopped each time she went over a major detail and asked me to confirm it. “To sum things up, Mr. Ypsilon, you were born here in Regighihegg, and your weapon of choice is the greatsword? Would the weapon you have mounted on your back be the greatsword in question? That’s quite the impressive blade. It says here that you’re participating on the king’s recommendation. Is that correct?”
I nodded in response to each of her inquiries. Ypsilon was, of course, the pseudonym I had chosen for the operation. Yeap, you got it. It’s just the letter Y again, but in like German or something this time.
“Great. I look forward to seeing you in action then,” she said. “The last step in the registration process will be for you to channel your magical energy through your ID card. Could you please do so to confirm your identity?”
I did as she said and cycled my mana through the card in order to make it glow to confirm that I was in fact Ypsilon. Man, these are some in-depth checks.
Contrary to my expectations, the checks they ran at the gate weren’t actually anywhere near as half-assed as I had expected. I had thought that it would be fine to have a proxy finish up the registration process on behalf of the actual participant, but it seemed that I was wrong. My impression stemmed from the initial registration. I had been allowed to fill in all sorts of fake details, and no one had been any the wiser. Though now that I think about it, that might’ve just been because the demon king was pulling the strings behind the scenes. I mean, I already know that he’s not doing this the legit way. He seemed way too confident in his intel for that. Especially when he was telling me about all the guys I had to watch out for.
“Thank you very much for your patience. Your registration is now complete,” said the receptionist as she handed me a wooden, rectangular block the size of a stick of lip balm. “You will be contestant number 113. Please make sure not to forget or lose your number. We will be calling it when it is your turn to fight. The waiting room is just over there. A member of our team will be waiting at the end of the corridor in order to provide you with further instructions. Thank you again, and good luck, Mr. Ypsilon.”
I raised a hand to thank the bowing receptionist before leaving the overly crowded entranceway and heading down the corridor the receptionist had pointed at. The area meant for fighters was separate from the area reserved for spectators, so I was finally given a break from the crowd.
After following the path for a bit, I eventually ran into a middle-aged man who looked to be one of the event’s employees.
“Good morning sir. You have arrived at a waiting area reserved for the tournament’s fighters,” he said is a professional sounding tone. “Would you happen to be here to compete?”
I answered him by nodding and showing off the card and the numbered stick.
“Excellent. All of the rooms in this area are waiting rooms. The ones with red “no vacancy” signs hanging in front of them are already at their max capacity, so you will not be allowed to enter them. However, you are free to pick any room that is not fully occupied.”
Well then. And here I thought I was going to be getting a private room. Though I guess it kinda makes sense. The preliminaries exist just to cut down the number of participants. It’s literally a battle royale. They’re not going to have enough rooms to give everyone their own private quarters.
“This place… is interesting.” Enne spoke to me telepathically as I headed down the corridor.
“Right,” I chuckled. “This is the first time you’ve ever been anywhere like this, isn’t it?”
“You’ll probably be even more amused once we get to the arena. The arena’s where they actually hold all the matches. That said, it probably reeks of blood, so try not to let yourself get too amused, alright?”
I knew that bringing a child to a place where violence was enacted on a regular basis wasn’t the best of ideas. It was sure to be a poor influence going forward. That said, Enne wasn’t an ordinary child. She was quite literally a weapon. Enacting violence had, at one point, been her sole purpose. I was confident that she wouldn’t end up growing addicted to bloodshed given the fact that she knew to fear it. The time that she had spent as a magic blade had tempered her to know the insane nature of brutality. There was a chance that experiencing the tournament would be good for her; it would let her see the act of combat in a new light.
“Don’t worry, Master,” said Enne. “I’ll only use my power when I’m with you.”
“Thanks for that, by the way,” I said. “You’re a huge help.”
Only after wandering around for a bit did I finally find a room with a vacancy. I opened the door and stepped inside, only to find that the whole room’s eyes were on me. Some were giving me glares sharp enough to kill. Others looked on in an expression of amusement. A third group, a group of edgelords, was pretending not to care for what everyone else was doing. They were observing me out of the corners of their eyes while trying their best to blend into the background. Wow. This is nice. The atmosphere this place has got going? Yeah, I like it. You know how the room feels the moment before you step out onto the field in order to participate in some sorta sport? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. There’s this vague sense of excitement buzzing all around the place. Oh, man. This is just how festivals like this have gotta be. This is fucking great.
A big smile unfurled under my mask as I slowly looked around the room in a provocative manner whilst moving forward and finding myself an empty seat.
The Preliminaries Begin
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome, to the one hundredth and seventy-sixth Martial Arts Tournament, the one hundredth and seventy-sixth Destia Trome! Today finally marks the day where our festivities will once again begin!”
The master of ceremonies appeared to be using some sort of magic in order to amplify the volume of his voice. It echoed throughout the massive stadium even though he wasn’t shouting at the top of his lungs. The crowd seemed used to it, however, as his voice functioned as a cue that led it to cheer.
Unlike the spectators, who were situated in seats located all around the stadium, I was leaning on a guardrail with Zaien slung over my shoulders. But like them, I too was focused on the act of observation. Specifically, I was panning my gaze around the arena and taking in the sights. The excellent view I had was enabled by my current position. I was located on a viewing platform connected to my waiting room. It was placed in close proximity to the arena that would soon serve as the stage in which the tournament’s participants would vie for superiority. And as such, I could easily see every seat on the opposite side of the tournament so long as I chose to direct my gaze upwards. Many had already been filled. It was just the preliminaries, but a large number of people had eagerly come to observe the battles that would soon unfold nonetheless.
“A pair of special guests will be joining us this afternoon,” continued the MC. “Both our very own King Phynar and Gojim, Chief of the Fiends, will soon be joining us!”
Hearing the announcement led me to cock an eyebrow. I was more surprised than not to hear that the king would be participating in the event, as I had assumed that he would have taken the opportunity in order to work behind the scenes. I guess that means he’s probably done everything he needs to personally attend to. I mean, it’s not like he’s gotta personally take command of every little thing, right?
Another equally surprising fact was that I would finally get to see the enemy faction’s leader in person; I hadn’t expected him to show up either.
The way he had been addressed was indicative of the sheer extent of his authority. The master of ceremonies thought of him as someone so important that he had mentioned him alongside the king, the person that supposedly lorded over the demon realm. I wonder what he’s like.
My original understanding of the fiend faction was warped. I had thought that the term fiend denoted a specific race or group of races, but I was wrong. I would have been more correct a few hundred years ago, as the term used to refer to ancient demons that spawned through spontaneous generation. They were the individuals that Lefi often referred to when she spoke of the demons she had met in her past. As such, I had assumed that modern fiends were their descendants, that they were demons that happened to be more powerful than others as a result of their lineage.
But alas, again, I was wrong. It was true that many modern fiends had descended from ancient fiends, and that they judged others based purely off of their bloodlines and pedigree, but it was more than just that. The individuals that labelled themselves fiends were more Jehovah’s Witnesses than they were anything else. The product that they sold was akin to a religion, one that worshipped the concept of power.
While they did believe that blood was important, they weren’t completely unwilling to change their own definitions of what was and wasn’t good blood. Fiends had the tendency to label all those willing to support them as pure-blooded fiends and denote their enemies as mudblooded weaklings. These definitions and the cult’s willingness to adjust them was what had made the faction and its adherents so widespread.
Most ancient fiends apparently had their races end in demon, so I had assumed that all individuals with races that followed the aforementioned pattern were a part of the modern faction. But again, I was wrong. That said, it was, in fact, more likely than not for any individual with demon in their race to be a part of the faction than not. You know, if this whole thing’s just one big cult, then I’m pretty sure the guy in charge is probably the type of dude that radiates charisma.
My thoughts were poised to continue wandering all over the place, but they were interrupted before they could get much further. The door connecting the deck to the waiting room swung open to reveal a member of the event’s staff, one holding something that seemed to resemble a ledger.
The staff member took a few moments to explain the day’s agenda. Being outside, we were naturally exposed to the audience’s ridiculously loud cheers. But as I could hear him clearly nonetheless, I didn’t bother leaving the guardrail. To summarize, we were going to be called chronologically by number. One through fifty made up the first group, fifty-one through a hundred made up the second, and so on and so forth. The first round was set to start at ten in the morning, and each was prone to taking anywhere between one and two hours.
“Looks like we’re going to have to wait a bit,” I said.
“We’re third?” asked Enne, telepathically.
“Seems like it. We’re probably going to have to fight somewhere around lunchtime,” I said. “We might be able to start around noon if the first two rounds are fast.”
Blech. Talk about bad timing.
“We’re going to have to fight hungry,” said Enne.
“Probably, yeah,” I said with a light chuckle. “Why don’t we grab something good to make up for it later.”
“Okay,” said Enne. “I can’t wait.”
Though I hadn’t realized it at the time, the people around us were giving us a series of stares. They were weirded out by the fact that I was talking to my sword, but I continued to do exactly that regardless.
“The first preliminary round will now begin!”
The MC’s declaration raised the curtain on the martial arts tournament and led the audience to explode into a series of wild cheers.
Watching the preliminaries hadn’t proven all that entertaining. The real tournament wasn’t set to start until tomorrow, so we were stuck with nothing but a series of messy battle royales. Anyone that had ever won a round in anything beyond the preliminaries was seeded, which in turn meant that the fights we watched contained nothing but a bunch of weaklings. The whole fifty man free for all aspect made the endeavour a lot more interesting from a visual standpoint, but it didn’t change the fact that each individual was still incredibly weak. To make matters even worse, the entire thing was more or less just a massive slugfest, a contest of brute strength where people charged at each other and kept punching until one of the two parties collapsed. There were a few guys that seemed somewhat impressive, but not because they were particularly strong or skilled. They just happened to stand out because they happened to have a thing for acrobatics.
The average fighter was basically nothing next to the adventurer I had fought back when it was prince season. Man, thinking back, he really was pretty damn strong, huh? Though I guess there’s not really much of a point comparing him to these fools, seeing as how this is still just the prelims and whatnot. You’d probably have to wait until tomorrow if you wanted to see anything interesting.
“The third preliminary match will be starting shortly. All participants, please head over to the stage immediately.”
Like everyone else set to participate in round three, I adhered to the announcement and made my way out towards the massive stage in which the fights took place. A single step was all I needed to exit the hallway and step into the arena, but the difference between the two zones was stark. Taking the step felt like taking putting a foot into a whole other world. The first thing I felt upon exposing myself to the outside was a rush of excitement. And not just my own. The crowd was raring for the fight to begin, and their energy was focused entirely on the stage. Likewise, the other fighters were so tense and worked up that one could almost feel their spirits burn just by being in their proximity.
Looking up, I noticed that a large crystal orb was suspended in the air above me. It was about the size of the massive screen one would find in a baseball stadium, and like said screen, its function was to provide a magnified view of the stage with a focus on actions of interest. Man, this world sure is weird. Most of their tech is like stuff out of the dark ages, but then they’ve got shit like this. What the actual fuck?
“It looks like all of the third preliminary round’s participants have gathered. So without further ado, let the fight begin!”
A low resonant note rang throughout the stadium as one of the event’s staff members struck a large gong.
The sound caused the amount of excitement in the air to suddenly spike. And with it rose the temperature. Everyone leapt into action and immediately engaged in a sweaty, all-out brawl.
People shouted war cries as their weapons met.
Of course, I too was the subject of some degree of aggression. A pair of assailants drew their weapons and charged at me with the spirits blazing despite the fact that I was more or less standing still and not really doing much of anything at all.
“Drop dead, brat!” roared one.
“I’m going to murder you!” screamed another.
Welp, time to do the thing. We’ve yet to have lunch, so I’mma just wrap this up real quick and then go meet back up with Leila.
“Cover your ears real quick, will ya?”
Wait. I know I literally just told her to do it, but does Enne even have ears when she’s just a sword? How the hell does she even hear in that form anyway? Man, you know, this is coming pretty late, but Enne sure is one mysterious creature, isn’t she? I smiled wryly as I entertained a few thoughts before taking a deep breath.
And then, upon turning towards the two out for my head, I released all the air I had taken in at once.
With a roar.
The ground shook.
The air shook.
Everything shook as my primal cry rang loud as thunder.
One by one, the other fighters began dropping like flies. Those closest to me were first to fall, but the others further away soon followed suit. The more distance between us there was, the longer it took the individual to fall. But fall they did.
A few seconds was all it took for me to end up as the last man standing.
All that followed was a moment of silence. None of the other fighters could so much as make a noise. The same went for the crowd. It had stopped responding in its entirety. Well then. And here I was thinking that there’d be at least a few left standing. Oh well, whatever. Works for me.
The skill I had activated was none other than the one I had obtained after murdering the brain-damaged dragon supposedly crowned his species’ king. Its effect was to intimidate all foes in range, and in doing so, dull their movements. In other words, it provided crowd control in the form of a slow. However, as demonstrated, it was also capable of knocking out my foes if they were too much weaker than me.
“I-I can’t believe it! The match is already over! One of our contestants has defeated all forty-nine of his peers with nothing but a roar!”
The MC’s voices served to snap the crowd out of the trance that the sudden change in the situation had left them in. Its members once again began to cheer just as vigorously as they had the moment the match began. Well, demon king, there you are. You wanted me to stand out, so I stood out. But don’t you think that this is all I have in store. Heh. Now listen up, plebs, ‘cause demon lords have got way more juice in them than just a roar or two.
And so, I won my preliminary match without so much as drawing Enne from her sheath.
Two men stood side by side in one of the walkways between the seating zones meant for the event’s spectators. The preliminaries had already begun, and as such, they were the only two still in the area. Each was observing the stage with a pair of sharp gazes, gazes completely devoid of all the excitement that possessed the rest of the crowd.
“Who’s the guy in the mask?” asked one.
“Phynar snuck him into the competition a few days ago,” replied the other. He claims to have been born in Regighihegg, but that’s most likely false.”
“You think he might be the mercenary that everyone’s been talking about?”
“That certainly does seem to be the case,” spat the second man in a spiteful tone. “And that means that he is only here to sully our honour. Despicable.”
The term honour may not have been one that seemed all that important at first glance. But as a matter of fact, it was. As men that believed in a doctrine supporting power over all else, the two discussing the masked man’s identity felt that honour was something to be valued and preserved. The loss of one’s honour was akin to the loss of one’s power. And that, in turn, was no different from the loss of one’s rightful place in the world.
“He certainly does seem strong. Do you have any clue who he really is?”
“That’s something we’re still investigating. We’ve yet to figure out the details.”
“He looks like the type to be beyond the reaches of our control. But it doesn’t matter. If he’s going to get in our way, then we’ll crush him the way we would any other obstacle,” said the observer. “Erase him. Erase him before his first real match.”
“Your orders are my will.”
“What a barbaric conversation you two are having.”
A third voice suddenly joined in on the conversation.
“What!?” Its presence caused both fiends to spin around in surprise.
And as they did, they were greeted by the sight of a hood. One of the two immediately reached into his pocket, drew a knife, and launched an attack, but it never reached its target. His arm fell right from his shoulder before it did. Blood immediately began to erupt from the cleanly cut stump.
Neither of the two knew exactly when he had drawn it, but the hooded figure had in his hands a naked, bloody blade.
“Graaaaaaaagh!?” The man that lost his arm began to scream after a brief delay. It was a loud shout that normally would have attracted plenty of attention. But the crowd drowned it out. Their cheers were so loud that none could hear the expression of his anguish.
Upon seeing his comrade fall, the second man immediately turned around and began to run.
“No, no, no, get back here. I can’t have you doing that. I’d really rather not be yelled at for letting you get away.”
The moment the man took his first step was the moment his head flew from its shoulders. There was a shower of blood, and then, nothing. He collapsed before he even had the chance to scream. That wasn’t to say that there weren’t any screams, however.
His companion began to squeal like a terrified piglet.
“Oh, don’t you worry. I won’t be killing you. The two of us? We have plenty to talk about,” the hooded figure laughed in a dark tone as he grabbed the armless fiend by the scruff. “I really do appreciate My King’s newest ally. He’s making my job much, much easier.”
The moment he finished speaking was the moment the hooded figure suddenly disappeared. And it wasn’t just him. The corpse, the blood, and the armless man were gone too. All of it had, in an instant, vanished without a trace.
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
“That was absurd.” The first thing the hooded agent voiced was a complaint. “Do you not understand what it means to have restraint?”
“Your boss literally told me to show off and stand out, so I did.” I responded to her reproachful glare with a shrug.
“…I suppose I cannot deny that. You certainly did draw as much attention as you possibly could have. I don’t think anyone else could have possibly done better,” she sighed. “You did so well that I couldn’t help but complain because it felt as if you were on the verge of overdoing it. Our enemy’s intelligence operatives are sure to leap into action and provide My King with the opportunity he was seeking.”
“Which means I did good, right?”
“That is correct.” Haloria heaved another sigh. “I’m sure that My King is currently in the middle of happily providing us with additional orders despite the fact that we’re far too understaffed to handle even our regular duties. My colleagues are more than willing to give their all for him. They would even die for him, so they are sure to happily accept it all without a word of complaint. In fact, they would probably find themselves elated by the fact that they’re being assigned additional duties. Of course, I feel the same way, but work is still work. Having so much of it remains a cause for concern…”
“I… uh…” I fumbled over my words for a bit as I looked for the right ones. “My bad.”
In the end, I gave up and went with a simple apology. Agent McHoodface seemed to be a few years my junior. Hearing a girl that was younger than me complain about being overworked made me cringe. I couldn’t help but pity her. Yeahhh… I should probably send her a care package or two. I’m feeling pretty bad for her right about now.
“There’s no need for you to apologize,” grumbled the secret agent. “You did nothing wrong. You’ve done an excellent job carrying out your role as our newest ally. Sorry, and don’t mind my grumbling. I was just exercising my right to complain.”
“Well uh, it sounds pretty rough. Feel free to hit me up if you need someone to talk to. I’m sure me and Leila would both be more than willing to sit down and help talk you through things.”
“It is as My Lord says, Haloria. You’re free to come to me if you ever need any sort of advice.”
“Thank you… Thank you so much, Ma’am.”
Haloria almost seemed to sniffle as she thanked my maid. She was evidently deeply moved by her offer. Wait. Did she just say ma’am? The fuck happened while I was away? Actually, you know what? I don’t really need to know, so I’mma just not even ask. It looks like they’ve got a pretty nice dynamic going on, and that it’s working for them. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all that really matters. Whatever bonding they did while I was sitting around and fighting can stay between them.
I forced a smile as I shrugged off my theories and turned back towards the super-sized steak I had laid out before me. The hunk of meat was irresistible—it was lightly dripping with fat and all the other juicy good stuff you’d normally expect from a steak. I jabbed a fork into a piece of it and took a bite. Likewise, Enne, who was sitting right by my side, was stuffing her cheeks as quickly as she could. Ermagawd! She’s so cute!
We were currently situated in a special area meant exclusively for VIPs. The seats were, for the most part, reserved for nobles and other similarly important people. First-class seats were, of course, accompanied by first-class service. All we had to do if we wanted anything was ask one of the maids stationed nearby, and they’d go fetch it for us. That was exactly how we had gotten our hands on the delicious steaks set out in front of us. We asked the maids for food, and they relayed our desires to the chefs stationed out back.
The people running the tournament had literally gone out of their way to hire a bunch of professionals from local restaurants just to ensure that the VIPs had the best experience possible. And as a VIP, I was quite grateful for it. I felt like I was being treated like a king. That said, the service I was getting was by far inferior to the service that the king was getting. Unlike me, he was getting treated like a Super VIP. The area he had booked was even more glamorous and extravagant. Of course, I was barred from visiting it without my disguise. Doing so would be no different from exposing the fact that I was Ypsilon. The king had stated that he wanted to show us a reasonable amount of hospitality. He would have happily welcomed us to his area had we not been concerned about keeping our secrets secret. As such, we settled for the VIP box.
“The man in the mask seemed rather powerful. Would you happen to know anything of his identity?” One of the nobles nearby asked a question that concerned me, so I perked up my ears and listened in.
“I was told that he was a mercenary in the king’s employ,” responded his friend.
“A mercenary, you say? Do you suppose he might consider working for me then?”
“I suppose he would, but I believe the king has him paid off for quite some time, so it would have to wait.”
I turned to the friendly neighbourhood CIA agent and began speaking in a whisper. “Looks like everything’s going smoothly on your end.”
“Of course it is. My King never fails once his plans are set into motion. He is more than capable of walking his enemies into his traps and wiping them out before they even realize that they have been caught. I can assure you that we have yet to demonstrate the full extent of our strength. The rate at which the pieces fall into place will only continue to rise.”
Yeah, sounds good to me. Oh wait, speaking of the king…
“You sure it’s fine for the king to be here? It seems like he’s got a lot of stuff on his plate already.”
“Unfortunately, the chief of the fiends is sure to take this as an opportunity to appear in public. My King has little choice but to do the same.”
Ahhh… So that’s how it is. I get it. He’s gotta show up to keep the other guy in check so he doesn’t use it as a chance to spread half-truths behind his back and make him look bad. As I understood it, politics was a game in which competitors spent a good amount of time trying their utmost to smear any dirt they had on their rivals all over their faces. And as such, showing up to a public event this large was more or less mandatory if one wished to avoid defamation in the form of biased propaganda.
Phynar had to show up to keep his political rival in check. The demon realm was already on the verge of conflict. There was a chance that the chief of the fiends would say just the right words to light the fuse if the king chose to stay holed up in his castle. And that was the one thing the demon king couldn’t afford. Unlike his opponent, he wished to put an end to the situation before it came to an all-out war.
“I am sorry to disturb you in the middle of our lunch break, but ladies and gentlemen, the special guests you’ve all been waiting all morning for have finally arrived!” My thoughts were cut short as the master of ceremonies began to speak. “Please, put your hands together and give a warm welcome to King Phynar and Lord Gojim!”
The floating crystalline sphere that served as the stadium’s screen suddenly changed perspectives right as the crowd began to clap. It was now focused on the king with his usual smile. I glanced over at the part of the stadium reserved for super VIPs only to see that he was in fact present. When the hell did he get all the way over there? I could’ve sworn that he wasn’t just a few moments ago.
His appearance prompted a pair of distinct reactions. The women began making fangirl noises. They screamed and squealed excitedly as soon as they saw him. The men, on the other hand, jeered at the top of their lungs. Their reactions immediately provided me with a much better understanding of exactly how his subjects saw him. So that’s how it is…
“Heya everyone! It’s me, Phynar, your king! Today finally marks the start of the festival that we’ve all been waiting for, so let’s all play nice and have plenty of fun.” The blonde demon spoke in a seemingly innocent, boyish, happy-go-lucky tone. He paused for a moment halfway through his speech to look in my direction. “I called one of my friends and had him step in to help make the event a bit more exciting for everyone. He’s really strong, so I’m sure you’ll all just love seeing him in action! That’s it from me. Have fun!”
Thanks for the sales pitch, I guess.
“Thank you very much, King Phynar. Ladies and gentlemen in the crowd, the individual that our king spoke of today was the mysterious masked fighter who has yet to draw his sword, the man who ended his match with nothing but a roar. Like many of you, I’m itching to see just how powerful he really is, and just how far he’ll go. Once again, that was your king speaking. Please give him another round of applause!”
Again, the audience did as instructed and put their hands together for the king.
“Next, we have another short speech from our second special guest.”
The display switched from the king to another man, one with a short, red butch cut, eyes as sharp as those of a hawk, and a grin as big as that of a snake. He was so beefed up that I could easily make out his muscles even from under his relatively thick clothes. The combination of his ridiculously well-built body and his two-meter tall frame almost made him seem like a giant.
Like Phynar’s, his appearance was accompanied by a series of cheers. Or more accurately, war cries. The vast majority of the arena’s men welcomed him by raising their arms and shouting at the top of their lungs.
They were so loud that they caused the girl stuffing her face beside me to leap out of her seat in shock. Dude, what the fuck? Don’t be scaring my daughter like that, you pieces of shit. Don’t make me come over there and slit your fucking throats.
“Thank you.” All of the cheering died down the moment the fiend lord spoke. “Thank you all for the warm welcome. My name is Gojim, and I have only one thing to say. This competition exists for warriors to demonstrate their strength. Enjoy their displays of valor to your heart’s content!”
All of the men in the stadium once again began to clap as he raised his arm and concluded his proclamation. The applause was much louder than the one that the king had received. It even seemed to cause the stadium itself to shake.
I see. So he’s the guy the fiends call their chief, huh? I’mma just check out his stats real quick.
Or not. I can’t see jack. It felt like my spell was being repelled by some sort of magical shield. I couldn’t tell whether it was some sort of magical item that shut out other magic in general or whether it was something that repelled analyze in particular, but either way, it was powerful enough to prevent the spell from activating altogether. Is it just me, or does he actually seem pretty demon lord-like. Seems about as charismatic as one too. I can’t really tell how strong he is, but whatever the case, the point stands. Appearance wise, he looks more like a demon lord than both me and the demon king. Fuck, thinking about this is giving me an identity crisis. Feelsbadman. Alright, you know what, fuck you, dude who looks more like a demon lord than me. I won’t forget this. One of these days, I’ll prove that I’m way more of a demon lord than you’ll ever be.
“It has been a while, Phynar.” The chief of the fiends sneered to the man standing beside him. “I see you are still playing the part of the fool.”
“That it has, Gojim. And I see that you’re still playing the part of a muscle brained idiot with a stupid looking face,” The king parroted the other man’s sentence structure for the sole sake of mocking him as he spoke with his usual smile. Even those that knew him well would likely have been surprised to see him spitting venom without so much as even the slightest change in his expression.
“Hmph.” Gojim answered his insult with a snort. “The only man in this realm that would dare call me that is you.”
“Aw, you poor, friendless little thing,” said Phynar. “Unlike you, the people around me care enough not to lie when I ask them what they think of me.”
“It is not I who deserves pity, but you, Phynar. Not even your own men respect you,” said Gojim. “It is a mystery that they obey you to begin with. I see not why anyone would take orders from a mere boy.”
“That would be because my men know how to think for themselves. Unlike the idiots flying your banner, they’re not stupid enough to mistake obedience and absolute submission for loyalty.”
“Hah!” Gojim scoffed. “Let us see how long that confidence of yours holds. Do you truly think that a mere mercenary whose lineage is clear as mud will bring you victory? He will fall, Phynar. It is only a matter of time.”
“Wow, Gojim! You’re such a nice guy! But it’s okay, you don’t need to worry. He’s way stronger than all of those precious little pawns you’ve played.”
“Do not mock my brethren, boy!”
Though the two men were engaged in a heated argument, neither’s voice was heard over the crowd. Not even the master of ceremonies, who was standing right in front of them, had realized that they were in the midst of a psychological duel. As such, he turned around and cheerfully smiled at both while approaching and making a request.
“Could the two of you please follow through with our agreements and shake hands for the crowd?”
The question caused an expression of indignance to momentarily flash accross Gojim’s face, but he honoured his agreement and went forward with it regardless. The crystal orb once again focused on the two guests of honour right as they reached to clasp each other’s hands.
Their handshake was quite an image to behold. One of the two men wore a bright but ghastly smile, while the other featured a scornful grin.
“Good luck, Phynar. I cannot wait to see that unbecoming look that will soon decorate your face.”
“The best to you too, Gojim. I hope that you’ll enjoy your last few days of freedom, because once this tournament’s over, your life will change forever.”
There wasn’t any audio feed; the crowd had no way of knowing that the two were talking each other down despite exchanging what appeared to be a handshake symbolizing goodwill.
The Main Event Begins: Yuki’s First Match
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
I stepped back onto the stage the day after my preliminary match. It was time for my first real match. And I was ready. My mask was on, my hair was dyed, and my trusty sword was slung over my shoulder.
“First up, we have the man that single-handedly ended his preliminary match without even drawing his weapon, a mysterious cutthroat sent by the king himself to eliminate everyone in his way! Ladies and gentlemen, I present you a man whose abilities have yet to be unveiled. Please give it up for Ypsilon!”
The MC’s intro led the crowd to break into cheers.
“And up against him is a giant of a man who uses his large frame to deliver all sorts of different attacks, one that always surprises us with a series of new moves. I would like to extend a warm welcome to a man that has participated in Destia Trome a total of ten times! To Paragrowe!”
“Paragrowe! Paragrowe! Paragrowe!”
“Kick his ass, Paragrowe! You got this!”
The crowd broke into a much louder set of cheers the moment my opponent stepped in from the opposite side of the area. Wow, okay. Fuck this guy. I’mma totally murk his ass.
Paragrowe was just about as big as the master of ceremonies had described. He was a hulking mass of a man dressed from head to toe in nothing but pure muscle. The way he lumbered onto the stage almost made me think that he was some sort of gorilla.
“Winning. The. Preliminaries. Like. That. Must. Have. Felt. Good.” He spoke in a deep, throaty voice. Listening to him seemed like more of a pain than not given the fact that his speech was distorted. He had to take a moment to inhale after each word. “But. Don’t. Get. Cocky.”
“All. You. Did. Was. Crush. A. Bunch. Of. Weaklings. Any. Of. Us. Regulars. Can. Do. That. With. Ease.”
“Hah. You. Scared? How. About. You. Say. Something?”
“Oh, my bad. I wasn’t really paying attention since I can’t speak gorilla. You’re probably going to need to learn to stop snorting each time you say something if you want me to actually understand you.”
The gorilla’s veins began to bulge as his face twisted in anger. The look he had on his ugly mug clearly conveyed his thoughts in a manner that his dysfunctional mouth couldn’t. My taunt seemed rather well-timed, as the gong signifying the start of the match rang throughout the arena the moment I pissed him off.
Spurred on by the bell, the Gorilla charged right at me. Each of his steps was accompanied by a tremor; he was so swole that the earth shook in response to his actions. He pulled his fist behind him and launched it with all the force of a cannon as he loosed an angry battle cry. The oversized monkey turned out to be exactly what his gear, or rather lack thereof, suggested. He was the type of fighter that preferred the use of his body to any sort of artificial weapon.
“I! Will! Shred! You! To! Bits!”
The cannonball that was his fist flew straight for my face. But it stopped in its tracks before it could reach me.
King Kong screamed in surprise as he realized that his full force punch had lost all of its momentum the moment it came into contact with my open palm.
“You know, that wasn’t a bad punch,” I said as I began to grin (not that he could see it given my mask.) “Well. My turn.”
I smashed Zaien, sheath and all, into the side of his gut. I would have loved to draw the blade I thought of as my daughter, but I couldn’t. He was too weak. Tanking a hit from her was sure to end his life.
The tournament was freestyle, so most things were allowed. Killing one’s opponent, however, was not. Doing so was considered foul play and would result in immediate disqualification. In other words, I was probably going to have to keep Enne in her sheath for quite a few fights unless I wanted to get myself booted out of the tourney. I wonder if anyone’ll actually be strong enough to force me to draw her?
Fortunately, my sheath strike wasn’t heavy enough to flat out kill my enemy. That wasn’t to say it was weak, however. The tap had not only knocked the wind out of him but also sent him skidding across the arena. He kicked up clouds upon clouds of dust as he slid.
And that was only the beginning. I wasn’t about to be done just yet.
I dashed past him and moved behind his needlessly large frame before he could so much as fully hit the ground. There was only one thing any reasonable person would do from such a position: smash his fucking head into the ground. And I did exactly that. I placed a foot on the back of his cranium and pushed hard enough to slam his face against the arena’s floor. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure he was out, so I gave him another stomp for good measure.
When the dust cleared, it revealed that the match was over. His eyes had rolled back into his sockets; he was out cold.
“W-what!? What just happened!? I couldn’t even see what happened! Paragrow was supposed to be the one on offence, but it looks like his attack didn’t connect! The ten-time participant is on the ground, down and out for the count!”
The MC immediately described the situation to the audience, which promptly responded with a series of boos. They didn’t seem to like the fact that I was using my foot to grind the gorilla’s face into the dirt. Well, fuck you too!
I raised my free hand and gave the crowd the finger, an action that only led to even more booing.
“W-what a display of arrogance!” Apparently, the MC wasn’t quite done shoutcasting, as he continued to narrate the events that occurred. “Ypsilon has not only disrespectfully stepped all over his opponent’s face, but also agitated the crowd!”
Wew. This is fun. You know how wrestling has heels? Fighters that like playing the part of the big bad evil guy? Yeah, I think I’m starting to get why they act the way they do. Like, holy shit. Doing whatever the fuck I want is so fun I think I might already be hooked. Woo! Plus one to being a fucking villain, and plus one to doing whatever the fuck I want!
On a related note, I know I’ve said this already, but I would have made a terrible hero. Thank god I didn’t end up stuck as one of those, right?
With my first round won, I casually began waltzing off the stage. The crowd was still booing me, but I didn’t care. If anything, their jeers only made me feel all the better.
The first thing I did after getting back to the waiting room assigned to me was to reach into my inventory and grab the bell that the demon king had given me. Unlike the room I had sat around in before my preliminary match, the room I was currently in was private. I was the only person in it, so I was safe to more or less do whatever.
“Welp. Time to summon me a CIA agent, I guess.”
I gave the strange, silent apparatus a quick shake. A series of magical waves emerged from within it and spread throughout my surroundings. One of Haloria’s coworkers responded to my summons immediately. One of the room’s corners rapidly distorted. Everything within a predefined space seemed to contort before coming together form a single hooded man.
“Huh, never seen that before,” I said. “Was that spatial manipulation?”
“Wow, colour me impressed,” said the hooded man with a wry smile. “I didn’t think you would be able to see through me that easily. You even seemed to know exactly where I’d appear despite never having seen the spell before.”
“Ehhhh, yeah, I’m pretty good with that kinda stuff. It’s no big deal.” I shrugged.
Magic Eye allowed me to perceive anything that happened to involve mana. Seeing through a teleport or two was a piece of cake. You know, now that I think about it, that skill sure is batshit broken, isn’t it? It’s probably the most OP thing I’ve got. Man, I should preach this shit. In fact, I might as well start going door to door and asking people if they’ve got time to talk about Magic Eye, my lord and saviour.
Speaking of looking at things, I decided to analyze the secret agent as he appeared. His stats were as follows:
Race: Guardian Devil
Class: Silent Assassin
Sword Mastery VIII
Crisis Detection VI
Enemy Detection V
King’s Right Hand
The assassin that had appeared before me was incredibly strong. Monsters and dragons aside, he was undoubtedly the strongest individual I had ever analyzed. A part of his strength stemmed from his particular skillset. How the hell are you supposed to stop someone capable of manipulating spacetime? Shit dude, I can’t even begin to imagine how you’re supposed to deal with that kinda bullshit. Sound magic seems pretty useful too. I can swear I didn’t hear jack shit when he first showed up. Dude was totally dead silent. Looks like the demon king’s got some pretty competent men working under him, huh?
“So? Did you need me for something?”
“Yeah. Iunno if you know already, you probably do, but I just wanted to tell you that it seems the enemy’s got a few guys in the crowd. They were obviously trying to find a chance to attack me. I’d like you guys to do me a favour and take ‘em out whenever you get the chance.”
As far as I could tell, the individuals in question either were fiends or were working for them. They were standing by with spells at the ready. My ability to see mana had clearly informed me that they were looking for a chance to strike, but the battle had ended before such an opportunity had reared its head.
“You were able to notice them despite being in the midst of a fight? Impressive. I should have expected nothing less of the man the king deemed a necessary ally,” said the agent. “Would you happen to recall their positions?”
“Uhhh… let’s see…” I looked outside the waiting area and turned my gaze on the audience. “You can actually see them from here. You see how there’s a guy with a buzzcut sitting in the third row from the top in the section right across from us? He was the first guy. The second guy’s to the first guy’s right. He’s in the next area over. He’s the guy with the glasses in the front row, and he’s seated right next to the couple with the kid.”
I pointed out the first two I recalled before putting a hand on my chin.
“I feel like there were a few more, but I can’t remember where they were off the top of my head. Sorry.”
“No need for any apologies. You’ve already provided us with more than enough information. I’ve already been informed of where all the others are located. We’ll have them taken care of shortly,” said the assassin. “And thank you once again for your cooperation. You’ve been very helpful.”
“Don’t worry about it. Getting rid of them helps me as much as it helps you. Anyway, good luck.”
I dismissed the man with a wave of my hand. He bowed to express his gratitude before using the power of spatial manipulation to vanish into thin air.