Fallen Monarch: Chapter 35

35. Facing the Demon Lord (4)

He was dreaming. It was a sweet and happy dream. There was a tranquil forest, with a lone cabin in a clearing. Butterflies were fluttering about the flowers, and he could see two people that he missed very much: Ellie and Ellin.

Tom reached out toward them with his hand. He reached out, but then the sweet dream suddenly turned into a nightmare. The scenery disappeared into the dark and next thing he knew, he was trapped within a dark coffin filled with spikes. His arms and legs were bound and his eyes were covered. All he could hear from nearby were screams. After an eternity of solitude, the coffin opened and a smiling man whispered into his ear.

“Know your place!”

It was none other than Salem Gatteschuranche.

‘Why does he resent me so much? Is it because I was a slave? Or that a slave had become a Hero? Whatever it is, I will never forgive you. I will curse you with all the rage and hatred in my heart; my grudge will never end. I’ll curse you! Curse you to death! Even after your body decays, I’ll torment your soul!’

***

“Oi! Are you ok? Oi!” someone asked. “This guy’s condition is no joke! Someone wake him up! Huh? What the―?! What’s this black liquid…? I-it can’t be blood, right?”

Tom opened his eyes to an unfamiliar voice. What he saw was a beast’s head that was a mixture between a dog’s and a fox’s. Next to that creature, he saw the head of a giant Ogre. From a distance, he saw Orc soldiers approaching. However, they all seemed to be frightened and hesitant to come too close.

Tom, who was still groggy from his sleep, realized that something was off.

‘Oh…’

He could feel a dark red liquid flowing out from his body. It was the source from which he called upon the soldiers of Arrtark. The pool of demonic power decomposed anything it touched, granting absolute death. However, the Gnoll and the Ogre before him were unharmed even with their feet in contact with the liquid. Tom didn’t have any intent to harm them. If he wished for it, they would have begun to rot from the feet upward, falling into the lake of death to join the ranks of undead waiting below.

‘… Be calm.’

Tom took a deep breath and recalled the liquid. The black liquid seeped back into his body. Seeing that, the Orc soldiers from a distance were shocked. They shouted from where they stood.

“…Unbelievable!! I recognized it when I first saw it, but are you a high-class demon?”

“If a mixed-blood is at this level, what level are the pure-bloods at? Isn’t this demi-human more powerful than a Vampire?”

“What tribe do you belong to? This is the first time I’ve seen your kind!”

At the Orcs’ admiration, Tom dodged answering their questions and looked toward the Gnoll and Ogre.

“Oi! Demi-human! Are you ok? Were you having a nightmare?”

A nightmare sounded like the perfect excuse to give them, so he ran with it.

Tom scratched his head as he spoke.

“Yes. It was… a terrible nightmare. Thanks to that, I couldn’t help myself.”

“Aren’t you a wild one? Oh right! The Orcs said that we can enter now!”

“Pardon?”

“The Orcs gave us permission!”

Tom looked toward the Orcs. They were looking at each other awkwardly.

“We’ve received an order. There were concerns about demi-humans camping in the wild, so we were ordered to let them in.”

Tom wondered who could have made such an order, but as there was only one figure that could order the Orcs around, he came to one answer.

‘Karakul…?’

As if they read what Tom was thinking from his curious look, the Orcs spoke.

“The Queen has ordered us to accept all of you in!”

***

The encampment of the Orcs was a clearing with barriers in the front and tents in the center. In the rear there was a village for the soldiers to relax. It had formed organically due to so many humans tyrannically crossing the national border of the Demon Kingdom. There had been so many demon refugees as a result that a new village had been needed in order to accommodate them. It was named ‘The City of Twilight’.

While it was far too lacking to call a city, it was also too large to be written off as a simple village. It had all manner of weapons and general shops, and it also had a diverse culture from all the various tribes living there. For a fortification made on the battlefront due to the invasion of the Hero’s Allied Forces, the village was in a surprisingly festive mood. This was mostly due to the fact that none other than the Queen herself had come to visit in order to raise morale. It was very rare, even among the past Demon Lords, for a ruler to think so much of their soldiers.

‘I didn’t really plan on coming…’

Tom was sitting on a second story balcony of some bar, holding a glass filled with beer. In reality, he didn’t think it was time for him to meet with the Demon Lord just yet. However, he couldn’t help himself. In the end, he had entered the village and decided to watch the Demon Lord from afar. To see the existence known as Lily Golt, the reincarnation of Ellie.

“It’s quite dull.”

Various demons were wandering the streets. There were many that looked like humans, but there were others that looked like beasts and goblins, most of whom were filling the streets with cheer. All of them, with their various appearances, were gathered here to watch the passing wagon. The Ogre Royal Guard served as protection. They were wearing armor made entirely of bones and wielding gigantic maces. The eyes of the crowd grew wide as they were awed by the imposing Ogres and their weighty footsteps. The crowd was even more shocked to see a pair of unicorns with white fur and silvery manes pulling the wagon.

The wagon opened to reveal a female sitting upon a comfy sofa holding a wobbling slime in her arms. With her wavy silvery hair, her pair of petite, helical horns, her smooth, copper, chocolate-like skin, her wonderful ruby-red eyes, and her beautiful white dress laced with frills, anyone that laid their eyes on her felt her regal aura. However, the person in question was not accustomed to such treatment, causing a nervous smile to be plastered across her lips as she waved awkwardly with a stiff arm.

“Ohhhh! It’s the Demon Lord!”

“Look at her regal horns!”

“Sniff Sniff… Ah, that fragment smell! Deserving of the noble Mountain Goat!”

“That silvery hair is simply beautiful!”

Tom saw Lily in such a state and smiled bitterly.

“… She’s supposed to be a reincarnation, but she’s too similar.”

In reality, those who were reincarnated had their flesh and memory completely destroyed. She, in her current state, would know nothing of the present Tom. They were no different than strangers. However, Tom could see her soul. The pure white soul shining within her was just like that of Ellie’s.

I’ve heard it’s been quite a while since she first took up the position as Demon Lord. I guess she’s still not used to it? Haha….” Tom laughed emptily. 

“…How awkward.”

As Tom suspected, Lily began to mutter to herself with a sigh. Her shoulders and waist were stiff as a board due to her nervousness. She continued to fidget with the slime in her grasp as she tried desperately to acclimate to the jubilant atmosphere of the village.

The elastic sensation that gave in to her fingers as she squeezed was pleasing, but it still wasn’t enough to completely calm her nerves.

‘… How strange. I thought it would be very chaotic here?’

She had heard that the City of Twilight, situated at the battlefront, was on the brink of destruction due to the Hero’s Allied Forces. However, despite such a predicament, not a single building within the village was damaged. She could see wounded Orc soldiers, but they were filled with vigor. It was hard to see how they had suffered a loss by the Hero’s Allied Forces.

‘Were the reports wrong?’

Lily tilted her head out of curiosity. Regardless, she believed that this place being so peaceful was a good thing.

Tom watched Lily as he drank his beer. As demons brewed their beer differently than humans, it had a unique taste. It was bitter, but had a sparkling taste that made him feel good.

‘I don’t really like alcohol, but I wouldn’t mind getting drunk for today…’

Suddenly, the door to the balcony upon which Tom was seated burst open, with a single girl jumping forward.

“Huuuh?! What do you mean? Her Highness Lily is at this place?! Wake me up earlier then!”

“Pffft?!”

Tom spat out the mouthful of beer in a classic spit-take. He coughed as he looked forward. The girl with pitch black hair and eyes, Ellin, had come out onto the balcony and now held onto the guardrail as she leaned precariously over the edge. When she noticed Lily passing by, she waved her hand excitedly.

“I-it’s true! It’s Miss Lily! Miss Lily~!”

A group of Orcs quickly rushed out onto the balcony and restrained her.

“Oi! This is why I told you not to tell her!”

“But, what if she made another scene because we didn’t say anything?”

“Ellin! Don’t act so rash! Keep your composure! The Demon Lord is in procession!”

Tom’s eye muscles began to twitch.

Lily, who was proceeding on the wagon, heard a familiar voice and turned her head. Her face brightened as she noticed Ellin waving her hand excitedly upon a second floor balcony.

“Ellin!?”

As she instinctively tried to raise her hand to wave back, she stopped herself and lowered her head. The demons out on the street turned to Ellin, only to focus back onto the Demon Lord. Lily grew red, out of embarrassment, and waved her hand much more timidly. As this happened, Lily noticed a man sitting a little distance away from Ellin: A demi-human in a unique attire, with leaves and hides all over his body.

Lily saw him and tilted her head in confusion. She couldn’t see the details of his face due to the hood, but his eyes were glowing with an unusually bright light within the darkness.

‘I think I recognize him…?’

“Aaah! Miss Lily! It’s Miss Lily! I’m going to go down right now to meet her!”

When Ellin tried to step upon the railing to jump down, the Orcs held her back.

“Oi! Don’t jump down!”

“Ellin, compose yourself! Y-you’re too excited!”

“Why is she so strong for a doppleganger?! Isn’t she too relaxed because there’s no other apostles here?!”

“No! Let me go! I’m going to meet Miss Lily! Damn it! Let me go! Miss Lily is passing by!”

“At the very least take a normal route! Don’t just leap down from the rooftops!”

The Orcs were struggling to stop Ellin. Within that commotion, a dignified voice cut between them.

“Just what are you guys doing?”

The Orcs and Ellin froze, then shrank back. Their collective heads turned to the new Orc that had just arrived upon the balcony. This Orc emitted a far more intimidating presence than the others. He was two meters in height, and had a bulky frame consisting of almost pure muscle. He was covered entirely with heavy armor and wore a massive mace behind his back. This Orc glared menacingly at the group, while revealing a canine jutting out from his lower lip.

Ellin saw him and froze immediately. She lowered her leg from the railing carefully and immediately grew tense while changing to a more militant posture. It wasn’t just Ellin, but the Orcs as well.

“…C-commander Karakul.”

“Ellin, I heard you returned yesterday. But, I heard you didn’t seek me out and instead chose to stay the night here.”

She stood at attention and spoke rigidly, full of tension.

“T-that is… I tried to make my report, b-but I wanted to rest a bit as well… Also, these guys… wanted to play…”

Ellin sneakily raised her finger toward the Orcs. The Orcs seeing Ellin do this watched her, slack jawed.

‘We’re fucked!’

‘How could you betray us?!’

In reality, she was telling the truth.The Orcs had asked her to join them for some leisure as soon as they saw her. Karakul had taken in Ellin and raised her, so naturally the other Orcs were close to her as well. Thanks to that, despite Karakul’s methods of education, her personality had grown more similar to the free and wild Orcs. It was due to their influence that Ellin had become how she was today.

“Is that an excuse?”

When Karakul looked at her with cold eyes, Ellin jumped in surprise and spoke apologetically.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“… Resting is fine, but It would have been better after a report.”

Ellin could only hang her head in silence.

“I’ve heard you left Demon Kingdom and went to a human region called the Golden Fief.”

“H-how did you know…?!”

Ellin was baffled.

“I have ears as well, but I want to hear more. What happened there? More importantly, who did you meet and leave behind? Tell me everything.”

Ellin tilted her head, puzzled. Out of everything, she didn’t understand why he was asking about the people she met and left behind. At most, they were humans she would never meet again. However, she couldn’t refuse, so she simply nodded.

Karakul turned to the Orcs.

“T-that is… Captain, we just wanted to play with Ellin.”

“It was just a simple card game! A game that humans often play…!”

“…I’ll have a personal talk with you two at another time.”

The shoulders of the Orcs slumped lifelessly. As Karakul turned around to leave, he could feel someone’s gaze on him, so he turned around to see if he could find the perpetrator. It had been bothering him all this time that someone had been sneaking a peek at them for a while.

As Tom watched them, their eyes met.

“…A-ah… M-mas…”

Karakul’s eyes grew wide as he instinctively tried to kneel down and lower his head before he stopped himself in surprise. Ellin and the other Orcs were in the vicinity. The figure he had formally dedicated himself to was the ‘Demon Lord’, not Tom, who was sitting before his eyes.

‘… Just why is he here?!’

Cold sweat began to form upon his brow as he couldn’t decide what to do.

‘Should I greet him? Or ignore him completely?’

As Karakul was in an awkward posture in the middle of trying to kneel, Ellin and the Orcs were watching him strangely.

“… No, it’s nothing. Ahem… Hm…”

Karakul faked a cough and looked at them imposingly. He cleared his throat and spoke loudly to clear the awkward mood.

“Ellin!”

“Y-yes?”

“… Get ready immediately. You’ll protect the Demon Lord.”

Ellin’s face grew bright at the thought of being able to meet Lily again.

“I understand!”

Ellin quickly leapt off the balcony. Karakul watched her before turning to the remaining Orcs.

“Both of you, follow Ellin. If you don’t want to die that is…”

Karakul’s cheeks twitched as if he was forcibly holding back his anger. The Orcs paled at the sight and hurriedly left the scene. They knew if they didn’t leave immediately, they would certainly be pummeled to death.

With the Orcs gone, there was no one left on the balcony other than Tom and Karakul, who was now standing stiffly in place. Karakul checked that there was no one else in the bar before looking back toward Tom. Seeing that, Tom waved his hind and smiled back.

“It’s been a while, Karakul.”

“… I greet you, Master.”

Finally, he could lower his head and pay his proper respect.

— Ω —

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