149. Allies (9)
“Is that so? But will it be okay with just them…”
“The allied forces are stronger than you think. After all, the army is made of the best troops from countries with a hostile relationship with the Holy Kingdom. Also, didn’t Halsem and Kulvo go together so that they can’t indiscriminately take advantage of the army? Trust them.”
Lily nodded. “I see. I have no choice but to trust them.”
Lily looked up at the sky. In the setting sun, her gaze fell upon the Demon Lord’s army. Even though the demons were panting in their heavy red armors and battle helmets, instead of exhaustion, their eyes were full of unshakeable strong will as they marched on. Nonetheless, Lily was not someone who would force their tired bodies.
“Let’s take a rest,” she said.
“…Is it a break?”
“Although I’m worried about the Kingdom of Aylans, it’s stupid to bring an exhausted army to the battlefield. Don’t you think so, Tom?”
Tom smiled and looked down.
“Then I’ll prepare the bivouac.”
The Demon Lord army’s march stopped. The demons set up tents and made a campsite for the bivouac. Shortly after, Lily entered the command post with Lulu and Luri.
Tom gathered firewood and lit it up before he sat outside. Ellin also accompanied him.
“Are we on a break?”
“Yes, for probably three to four hours. You’d better get some sleep since we’d have to go again.”
Ellin nodded. She carefully said while reading his face, “Tom.”
“Earlier…what did you mean by the last?”
Tom bitterly smiled at Ellin, who had started a conversation out of the blue.
“Literally. It will be the Holy Kingdom’s last war, if we defeat Pope Salem, of course. Also, after this war, the Demon Kingdom wouldn’t be the world’s target anymore. Instead, we will get national support with better awareness.”
“No, not that.”
Tom tilted his head and looked at Ellin.
“I’m asking if by ‘the last’ you were only talking about ending the war, what will you do?”
Her eyes shook, as if she was anxious.
“…No. It’s not all about that. Honestly, I’m thinking of quitting my position as an Apostle and living quietly after this war ends.”
Ellin’s eyes grew wide.
“…Does it mean you’re leaving the Demon Kingdom? To disappear again?”
Even though Ellin said ‘again’, Tom didn’t care and shook his head.
“No. I’m just quitting my position as an Apostle; I’m not leaving.”
Ellin sighed in relief.
“I’m just trying to live freely.”
“I’m thinking of living alone after resigning. I’d like to live in a small deserted forest, build a small hut, plow fields and farm, go down to the city and look around the streets when I get bored…then return home and take a nap, spending my days leisurely. Peaceful, free, in a place where there are no fights or troublesome things.”
Tom closed his eyes and ruminated, recalling the days from so long ago. In a small, run-down abbey, he watched the kids as they played around. After killing the Demon Lord in his Hero days, he lived peacefully while bringing up abandoned children in his hand built abbey. Tom wanted to continue living like that—a boring, relaxed life without fights and enemies.
Ellin had a blank look on her face before she said, “Uhm…can I live there too?”
Tom opened his eyes and looked at Ellin. She smiled pleasantly and stretched out.
“Hngh~! Actually, I think I’m not fit for the apostle position either…! It’s not like I have anything to do here except for eating and sleeping. I think I’d rather live like an ordinary human in the place Tom lives…!” Ellin said with a grin. “Also, Tom might feel lonely alone.”
“There’s a saying that those who don’t work, they do not get to eat. I hope you don’t try to live off me to play and eat…and who will assist Her Highness? Isn’t Ellin the person Her Highness relies on the most?”
“Of course I’ll work! I’ll just have to live while farming, as Tom said! Besides, the person Her Highness relies on the most now is you, not me. And yet you’re leaving first; what are you trying to argue? As for Her Highness… I’ll just have to visit the Demon Lord’s castle in my free time. I’ll just play with Her Highness until we’re sick of it. Have conversations, drink tea…ah! It’d be nice if you have Her Highness come visit! It’d be way better instead of being in the suffocating castle. Also, Her Highness would do fine without me since she has Lulu, Luri, and the other Apostles.”
“…You’re so optimistic.”
“Being optimistic is good. So? Can I live there too?”
As Ellin said with her face close to his, Tom frowned.
“…Then, I’ll be uncomfortable?”
“It’s alright. Because I’m comfortable!”
“…Don’t spout nonsense.”
“I said I won’t just play. I’ll help, alright? I’ll lend a hand when needed. Living quietly by the two of us would be fun too! So what do you think? Can we live together?”
“…It seems like you’ll still come forcefully even if I stopped you.”
“Of course! Or I can just build a house next to yours? I can live wherever I want, after all.”
Seeing Tom sigh, Ellin made a crying face.
“…You, you’re so harsh. Don’t act like I’m a piece of luggage. I said I’m helping! Farming or anything, I’ll do everything I can!”
“Yes, yes. Suit yourself.”
“Yeah, I will.” Ellin smiled.
Tom could only form a dejected smile while looking at Ellin.
“…It’s terrible!! What the heck!”
“There’s nothing left.”
Kulvo screamed, and Halsem, who was beside him, shut up.
Around fifty Goblins with magic bullet muskets, five hundred Orc infantry, and fifty thousand human troops of the Demon Kingdom allied forces had stepped into the Holy Kingdom’s territory. However, the fief and the town they saw were all in ruins. Even the people left behind were all the disabled and infirm, anyone who couldn’t move.
The country had fallen. There was no benefit of occupying such a destitute place. If there was any…
‘…Is it people’s favor?’ Halsem recalled Tom’s request.
“Please go to the Holy Kingdom.”
“Are you telling me to go to war?”
“No. You just need to do your role as a merchant. The allied forces will invade the Holy Kingdom while you just need to send supplies from the occupied fief to the people who were abandoned in the Holy Kingdom.”
“Holy water and food. Please save the people in the Holy Kingdom.”
He was probably intending to raise support for the Demon Kingdom by saving the Holy Kingdom’s people. Feeding the hungry and healing the wounded was like salvation for humans. If it became known that the Demon Lord was their savior, it’d be like they were indebted to the Demon Lord, and they wouldn’t be able to forget it.
Halsem looked at the hundreds of carts loaded with huge wooden containers. They all contained food bought from the Demon Kingdom and Holy Water provided by Tom. The Demon Kingdom was currently overflowing with money. They could buy food, carts, herbs, and so on as much as they wanted. As for the Holy Water, although it was diluted with ordinary water, the effect would be superior to the usual Holy Water or potion.
‘…This is a lot more than I thought. Did Tom do this alone?’
Tom’s face had turned pale when he provided the Holy Water. Unlike usual, he looked like he would fall any second. Obviously, he had overworked himself to make the Holy Water.
“…Tom, isn’t he pushing himself too much? No matter how amazing the Devil of Lania might be, I can’t believe he made such a large quantity of Holy Water… I hope he doesn’t overwork himself.”
“Oy! Halsem, what do we do? There’s got to be something!”
Halsem answered Kulvo by pointing at the carts.
“Let’s unload them. We will divide the food and give herbs to the less injured people. It’d be better to heal those with severe wounds and diseases with Holy Water.
“And I don’t know about the other fief, but we’ll keep the Holy Kingdom’s capital in check. Since we’d need others’ help to destroy that place…let’s set up camp and take a look at the Demon Kingdom’s war situation.”
“You heard that, right?!”
The other goblins nodded at Kulvo’s shout.
Akareal bitterly smiled as she stroked her belly. It had become so big before she even knew it. The fact that she was carrying a baby made Akareal actually feel she had become a mother. It was a complicated emotion—confused yet happy, worried but excited.
“How about this? This might suit you more…! Ah, this looks prettier! Wife, which one do you like? This…? Or this…?” King Paulie held up the cute baby clothes and asked her excitedly, “Ah, this one would be nice too!”
“…I, I know, right.” Akareal looked at King Paulie and awkwardly smiled.
These days, King Paulie had been harping about the unborn baby every time he visited. Akareal wasn’t used to it, but since the servants and maids said, ‘He’s always been like that’, Akareal just accepted it and moved on.
“Your Highness, we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl. Taking care of that from now…”
“My wife! What would you like? A boy? A girl? A reliable boy would be good, but I think I’d like it to be a lovely girl! Just how envious I felt when King Pygni bragged about his son! But now, I could hurt his pride to the point his chubby cheeks would tremble! Akareal, I really love you!”
Akareal glanced around after hearing King Paulie. Although the servants and maids had their heads down, she could see them smiling. The sight of a childish parent getting excited about having a baby rather than a strict and dignified king was unfamiliar to them.
Then, the door opened, and a servant hurriedly came in and approached King Paulie. He whispered to him.
“…Is that so?”
“What is your command?”
“Let’s go,” King Paulie smiled and said. The servant bowed his head and stepped back.
Akareal looked at him curiously. “What happened?”
“Aah, the allied forces invaded the Holy Kingdom a while ago, and it seems like it’s going well.” King Paulie waved his hands as if it was not a big deal.
Akareal felt relieved seeing his smile.
“So, relax…! Ah, these days I’m busy… I need to leave for a while. My Queen…rest well.”
King Paulie looked at Akareal.
“By any ch—I want to get out of the palace, can I? It’s too frustrating here.”
King Paulie looked perplexed.
“Ah…that’s difficult. It’s sensitive these days because of the war. I can’t let you go out when we have no idea what the Holy Kingdom might do.”
“But still, isn’t it inside our kingdom?”
“Even though it is, we don’t know what kind of evil thoughts they have. I want to protect you. I want to keep you in the safest place in the world.” King Paulie softly held Akareal’s hand. “So…please stay here until the war is over. For you…and also for the baby.”
“…Alright.” Akareal gave a forced smile while nodding.
King Paulie showed a benevolent smile before he went out of the room.
As the door quietly closed, an engraved magic circle sealed off all the noises outside. King Paulie looked ahead with a stiffened expression.
“…We’re guessing that more than 180,000 of the Holy Kingdom’s troops are outside the capital. Also, we don’t know how they knew, but they even blocked the secret royal path… Although we tried to execute warp magic, the bastards got in our way, so it’s almost impossible for the Queen to escape.”
King Paulie groaned and walked away after hearing the mage knights, who wore robes over their armor. The mage knights followed behind him.
“Has it been three days since we were surrounded…? What about the Demon Lord army and the Lome Kingdom?”
“It’s hard to judge since there’s disrupting magic barring our communication with the outside. Still, we estimate that the support is coming at full speed.”
“Just an estimation…?”
“…In the worst case, they might have invaded the Holy Kingdom’s territory, not sending support.”
“…The Lome Kingdom might do that, but the Demon Kingdom wouldn’t. They will not abandon us.”
King Paulie went in the direction of the balcony. He could see the current situation of the capital there, where every road in the capital was in view.
“…There’s a lot of them.”
The Holy Kingdom’s soldiers were outside the huge exterior wall. They were wearing armor white and gold armor, and golden crosses, their symbol, were stuck all over the place. There were corpses, seemingly Aylans, hanging and burning on crosses.
It seemed like a demonstration to incite fear. Also, countless siege weapons like ladders, rams, siege towers, catapults, and so on were prepared for the impending invasion. A tension of not knowing when they would rush in hung in the air, and the burning smell of flames pierced the tip of his nose even from afar.
Seeing all of this, King Paulie broke out in a cold sweat.
“…Can we stop them?”
“If you tell us to, we will.”
“I’m talking about the possibility. Is there a chance we defeat them?”
“…Less than twenty percent.”
“So it’s going to be a hard fight.”
Once he got the news that the Holy Kingdom had crossed the border, he hurriedly gathered troops in the capital, numbering around 70,000. However, it was beyond his ability to block the opponent that had 80,000 slaves and almost 100,000 trained soldiers. More than anything, for some reason, let alone decreasing, the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers were increasing in number.
“…It looks like the number increased from three days ago.”
“They must have looted the villages and fiefs near the capital and turned the people into slaves.”
“Vicious bastards! What in the world are the other fiefs doing? Why are they not evacuating the people? I’ll change all of those in charge of them the moment this war is over!” King Paulie said while gritting his teeth. “This situation, there’s no way the Queen would notice it, right?”
“We have put soundproofing magic around the room and covered the windows with illusion magic. But I think the Queen would find out soon since she’s good at magic.”
King Paulie quietly closed his eyes and nodded.
“Keep it up for as long as you can. Until support can come…and so that the Queen doesn’t get shocked.”
The mage knights bowed their heads.
“We will obey your orders.”
— Ω —