143. Allies (3)
Tom pulled out all the stuff placed on the shelves before reorganizing them. He gathered all the necessary documents and books onto the desk, and as he was re-read them, Ellin returned with tea.
“It’s warm tea! I made it myself!”
Feeling proud of her achievement, her neck stiffened as she held out the platter with tea to Tom.
“…This is so strange.”
“Strange? What is?”
“Your actions. Did you perhaps eat something you weren’t supposed to…?”
Ellin’s eyes twitched as she maintained her smile.
“…When you say something like that, even as a joke, it hurts me. I can clean and brew some tea at the very least.”
Tom took Ellin’s reply to heart and lifted the tea from the platter. As soon as he took a sip, he started coughing, as though the bitter taste had stung his tongue.
“What? D-did I brew it wrong?”
“Ahem…please learn from Lulu later so that you don’t make the same mistake in front of Her Highness.”
Ellin took the tea from Tom’s hand and drank it, causing her to frown and stick out her tongue.
“Bitter! What went into this?”
“How would I know?”
Tom faintly smiled and looked back over the books and documents. On the other hand, Ellin sat on the sofa and observed Tom for a few minutes. Her mouth opened and closed as though she was holding back some questions plaguing her mind. Tom couldn’t ignore her stares for much longer as they had started to bother him quite a bit, so he broke the silence.
“…What is it?”
“No, it’s nothing…!?”
She replied in a hurry and averted her gaze. She then changed topics in an attempt to divert his attention.
“Ah! You haven’t eaten, right? I’ll make you something…!”
Tom sighed and placed the documents on the table before rising from his seat.
“Let’s go to the cafeteria. I don’t know what kind of side effects there will be from eating your food.”
“Side effects… There’s no way there would be any side effects from my food. I can cook normally! Probably…”
“That last bit sounded unsure, so I don’t trust you.”
Tom pressed his temples. He opened the door and called out to Ellin sitting on the sofa.
“Hurry up. My stomach is rumbling…and you also haven’t eaten, right?”
“Hm? That is true.”
“Then, let’s go.”
Ellin looked at Tom and chuckled before following him.
At the Demon Lord’s Castle’s training grounds, the various Demons gathered there to train were huddling together. The Orcs, Gnolls, Minotaurs, Centaurs, and others all had their gazes focused at the center, looking awestruck.
An Ogre, his massive body wrapped in plate armor, was resting a gigantic mace on his shoulder. He was the Apostle in charge of the Demon Lord’s security, Kuman.
“Let’s…take a break.”
Kuman said in his trademark slow speech. He was feeling troubled as he looked at Lily Golt. She was wearing a white dress-style plate armor, made by the dwarves, and holding a greatsword with both hands. She shook her head while panting.
“No, I can still go on.”
“…It might damage Her Highness’s authority.”
Kuman gazed around worriedly. The various soldiers had gathered around to watch Lily and Kuman’s duel. Lily would ask for training whenever she had time, and the intensity had shot up after she was taken hostage by the Hero and his party.
Kuman had been her sparring partner every night since the Bludiferr incident, but the hostage situation had changed her. She obsessively trained day and night. She felt responsible for having become a hostage and almost causing an important war to be lost.
Kuman sighed. As a member of the Mountain Goat species, she had a longer lifespan than most other Demons. Her race was considered one of the more powerful species, capable of cultivating their strength due to their long life. Still, for a Mountain Goat race to face one of the most powerful of Demons, an Ogre, didn’t make any sense.
‘Things will be troublesome if Her Majesty were to use Magic. However, Her Majesty is stubbornly sticking to physical attacks…’
Kuman peeked over at the Demons gathered at the training grounds. To win over the Demon Lord in front of them was considerably burdensome. Didn’t the title of Demon Lord symbolize authority?
‘If I win against a Demon Lord, her reputation will fall…! Should I purposely lose…? Even if it’s just a draw…!’
Kuman looked at Lily, who had her eyes narrowed into a slit as she trained her greatsword toward him.
“I’m sincerely asking you.”
“It is the command of a Demon Lord.”
Kuman blinked and scratched his cheek.
‘Sincerely… Well, it’s not like it will happen just once or twice. Rather, it’s going to keep occurring…’
Kuman gripped his mace, lightly jumped, and landed on the ground. The moment his massive body and his feet touched the hard earth, there was surprisingly no sound or impact. His presence and form disappeared.
Lily’s eyes grew wide, and her body rolled back from the impact. The place where she was standing had been smashed by the mace, and the ground was destroyed. In the flying debris and dust, Kuman lifted his mace and exhaled, his bloodshot eyes glaring at Lily.
Ogres. They had been historically known as a monster that ate humans. Although their overwhelming strength was terrifying, the fact that they could move their massive bodies like the wind was even more horrifying. The Ogre, Kuman, was one such monster that had maximized his movement speed.
Lily rolled on the ground, and once she had safely stopped, she turned to look at Kuman.
Seeing his eyes turning red as he loosened his shoulders, Lily felt the wind come out of her sails. She regretted her request moments ago.
“I-I appreciate you going at it so earnestly, but…l-let’s take it a bit easy.”
The spar didn’t last long. The result was Kuman’s overwhelming victory. Only, the fact that the Demon Lord was able to hold out for so long against an Apostle, an Ogre no less, was enough for the Demons to shout admiring words.
“Your Majesty! Majesty! Majesty! What do we do…!? What do we do!?”
Luli, the Moon rabbit girl, flittered about the sparring area and hopped around Lily. Lulu tugged at her ear in response.
“Luli, don’t cause such a scene around Her Majesty.”
Lulu then placed a bottle of Holy Water on top of a platter and held it out to Lily.
“Please heal yourself, Your Majesty.”
“I appreciate it.”
She extended her hand, but a moment later, she tilted her head. Her hand was trembling, and she couldn’t lift it properly. No, her hand could be raised, but the direction of her hand…
“I-it looks like it’s broken.”
“B-broken!? W-what do we do…!? What…!? What do we do…!?”
Lulu began to hop about as well, but someone pressed down on his head. It was Tom, who was standing there with a bitter smile on his face. Ellin was also accompanying him.
“Sparring is nice…but you’re overdoing it a bit.”
“Your Highness!? How…! Look at yourself!”
Ellin was scared witless. As she supported her, she shouted at Kuman, who was standing there awkwardly.
“Lord Kuman! You went too far!”
“Uh? Ah, No… I’m sorry. It’s just… I couldn’t control…my strength very well.”
Kuman earnestly looked down in apology while scratching his head. Lily was more shocked by his expression and tried to stop Ellin.
“Stop it. He only did as I instructed…”
“It’s nice to train your strength, even through force, but it’s still a bit too much.”
Tom carefully grabbed her hand, surprising Lily. He quietly whispered in her ear.
“Please clench your teeth. Holy Water might heal the wound and mend the bones, but a broken bone must still be aligned correctly.”
Lily gritted her teeth as the sound of bones moving resounded in the area. With a moan and some tears in her eyes, Lily looked at her correctly aligned arm. Tom then held out Holy Water toward her and placed it on her lips.
Lily glanced at his outstretched hand Water and muttered before taking a sip, “T-thank you.”
“It would be nice if you could keep things in moderation. For ordinary humans, it wouldn’t be too much to be executed for injuring their kings in such a manner. Well, although human and Demon societies are different…please be a bit more careful.”
“I-I see. I’ll keep it in mind.” Lily nodded.
Tom smiled lightly and displayed his formality with a bow. After the simple greeting, he didn’t stay and headed to the cafeteria. Ellin looked at his departing back in a panic.
“Ah, you…that is…”
Elling hurriedly turned to Lulu and Luli and said, “I’ll leave Her Majesty to you!”
“Yes? Ah, okay…!”
Lulu and Luli were shocked that Ellin had left Lily to them. As soon as they supported Lily, Ellin followed after Tom. The pair tilted their heads in confusion.
“Where are you going!?”
Ellin shouted back in reply, “Food!”
The brother and sister were both confused and perplexed, mumbling to each other.
“Food…? Can’t that be eaten after a nice conversation?”
“That’s what I mean. I wish we could’ve talked for longer…”
Lily smiled bitterly at Tom’s leaving back.
The Moon Rabbit siblings said in unison, “Then let’s follow them.”
“I also want to know what’s going on.”
Lily looked at the pair encouraging her.
Due to the Holy Water, Lily’s body was fully healed. She could already stand on her own, even stretching a bit to loosen her muscles. She removed her equipment and, after changing into some light clothes, headed toward the cafeteria.
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