43. Chapter of Integration – Prologue
Karakul pressed his temple. With the condition the Demon Kingdom was in now, he didn’t know what to do next.
He agonized over whether he should send a letter to the capital city or move troops to hit the vampires before they had time to prepare.
In the room, Tom didn’t seem to share Karakul’s worry on his face. Instead, he sat on the bed, tearing into a hunk of wild demon meat he’d received as payment. He closed his eyes in relish.
“This is delicious. Wild Demon is this delicious?! This food is said to be something only royalty eats. Does everyone really eat it that often here?”
Karakul glanced at Tom.
“What are you going to do now? Initially, didn’t you plan to remain hidden?”
“Uh? Ah, yes I did.”
Tom wiped the oil from the corner of his mouth with his finger and licked it with his lips. With slight disappointment, he stared at the plate covered in bones before pushing it aside.
“But it became impossible since a problem occurred. The Demon Lord’s already seen my face.”
“By problem you mean…?”
“Vampires. Those bats were scheming something.”
“Are you talking about the coup d’etat?”
Karakul shifted the topic to what he wanted to ask the most.
“Do you think the Demon Kingdom’s capital has collapsed by now?” Tom asked. “That vampire—I can tell just by looking at him—he possesses a a level of power on par with a Demon Lord. Is he really topped-ranked?”
Karakul shook his head at Tom’s words. “No matter how strong the vampires are, there are other Apostles. It doesn’t seem like they would be defeated so easily.”
Rank in the Demon Kingdom was about a combination of authority and force. Karakul had power, but he was 4th in rank because he only had authority over the Orcs. Kuman was 2nd thanks to his destructive force, even though his Ogre corps was small in number. Just because their individual forces were strong didn’t mean they would be high in rank. That said, the vampire Bludifer had an influence incomparable with the 2nd and 3rd in rank, his individual power was simply that great.
Having both power on the same level as a Demon Lord and a retinue of Werewolf slaves—it was no wonder that he was the one the demons the human kingdoms of the continent feared most.
“Maybe, but…” Tom muttered as he averted his gaze. A crow flew in through the camp’s open entrance and landed. It was one of his familiars that had pursued Bludifer.
The crow tilted its head as it looked at Tom.
“….As I feared, the Apostles have fallen.”
Karakul stiffened. They’ve fallen? It hasn’t yet been a week since Bludifer left this place! Were the apostles defeated as soon as he arrived at the capital?!’
“What kind of nonsense…! Did the other Apostles just roll over…!?”
Tom uttered words which made Karakul’s heart drop.
“It seems that they obeyed him.”
The Demon Kingdom’s palace was a place of countless battles and sacrifices, and where Demon Lord after Demon Lord had been usurped, replaced, and defeated again. Despite its long and storied history, it was shabby, worn out and ill-maintained. But, since there was a throne to sit on—a throne made using skeletons of the Treos, wild demons, and Dragons. Though the palace should be sacred, it was now being sullied.
Blood gushed from the stump of a neck and a head fell beside the throne, before rolling away. The head was enormous, threatening, and brutal. Its body, towering nearly three meters, dropped as well, a large pool of blood forming where it fell.
It was a Troll: demons with strength equaling Ogres’, but with the added benefit of regeneration. They were demons whom many risk-takers fought against to test themselves, and also the demons that sent countless of those risk-takers to their deaths. Among them, the most powerful and influential after Kuman was Revin, the 3rd ranked Apostle, who now lay dying.
“…Is there anyone else planning to rebel?”
With blood-red eyes, disheveled white hair, and pale skin, Bludifer looked around the throne room. He licked off the thick blood smeared on his hand. An odd pleasure greeted him, and he frowned as he looked upon the head of the dead Troll.
‘He tastes better than he looks.’
Before him, the Apostles of the Demon Kingdom had been gathered. Werewolves, nearly 2 meters tall, surrounded them, growling, daring them to make a move. Their savage-looking fangs caused Gnoll Nasys, 8th and lowest in rank among the Apostles, to tremble uncontrollably in fear.
A glob of drool fell from one’s jowls, and he let out a cry.
“I, I surrender! We Gnolls will obey you! So please put this slave’s mouth away! Hiiik!”
Bludifer smiled and shifted his gaze.
Hekaron, 7th in rank, head of the Centaurs, let out a groan. Lying on the ground, he looked at the werewolf that was trampling on his legs and mumbled.
“I will obey you. So please don’t break my legs.”
The next was Allin, who had a huge build and a bull’s head, 6th of rank, the head of Minotaurs. He frowned. Any attempt at opposition was in vain since he was surrounded by Werewolves as well as restrained by chains. As strong as he was, to fight against dozens of Werewolves alone was futile. He bellowed with a snort.
“You can’t be serious! Follow tradition! If you want to be the Demon Lord then you need to be a person that is qualified to be the Demon Lord! Do you think malicious bastards like you would get crowned through force alone?!”
“So…opposing?” Bludifer frowned. He turned to the large, human-shaped tree next to Allin. He was 5th in rank and of the Treo clan, and his name was Nordin Wood. “What about you?”
The werewolves brought burning torches near one of his branches. Even so, Nordin’s expression remained calm. He looked at Bludifer with neither anger nor hatred in his eyes.
“I agree with Allin; If you want to be the Demon Lord, you must be qualified.”
Bludifer’s frown deepened. It was dangerous to kill more clan heads than he already had. Killing them meant needing to control their troops without them, troops much less likely to be cooperative with the loss of their leader. Killing Revin alone was enough to serve as an example.
“…Bastards who will be livestock dare to defy me? You guys are too stupid!” Bludifer clapped his hands as if a thought came to his mind while looking at both of them. “Right, then! So you wish to be known as traitors? You know what that means for the rest of your clans, right?”
Their eyes widened at the mention of their clans.
“You dare to threaten them?!” Allin tried to rush the throne, but the werewolves yanked his chains, pulling him back.
“…Do you think what you are doing is right?” Treo Nordin Wood’s voice creaked tersely.
“If you don’t follow me, you are traitors. Your clans will be slaughtered and razed. What will you do?”
“…I understand. I surrender.” Allin clenched his teeth. He placed his clan above his own life and pride.
“…This body will also obey you,” Nordin said.“But, please protect my clan.”
Finally, even Nordin Wood yielded to him. The Treo knew that the wicked vampire in front of him wouldn’t hesitate to slaughter anyone, even entire clans.
Bludifer drew near them, the werewolves tightening their grip on the Apostles. “Of course, I can’t take you at your word alone!”
One after the other, Bludifer sank his teeth into their necks. Surprised, they screamed out in pain. Some of their blood was sucked out, and an unpleasant demonic power was injected into their veins. After Bludifer bit each Apostle, he stepped back and licked his lips.
“Aah, the Treo’s blood is awful,” Bludifer said. “It tastes too clean! And the Gnoll’s blood is nasty. What’s with that fishy smell to it? But,” Bludifer wiped the blood from his lips, “the others’ blood tastes good.
Hearing the sound of slurping, he looked behind him. Karina, his sister, was intoxicated with blood, gorging herself on it in a euphoric manner.
“Aaah… Big brother! It tastes delicious! It couldn’t taste any better than this! Blood of strong demons, like this…! How long has it been since the last time I drank Apostle’s blood! Especially this Troll, I’m going to be drunk!”
She hugged the Troll’s head lovingly, then lifted it up and showered herself with blood flowing from its neck. She stuck out her tongue as the blood drenched her whole body.
“Sister… Would it be okay for the sister of the soon-to-be Demon Lord to be so sloppy like that?” Bludifer asked.
Thinking for a moment, Karina threw away the head. Bludifer sat on the throne and Karina sat on his lap.
They looked down at the Apostles and licked their lips with their long tongues, enraptured by the delicious blood.
“From now on all demi-humans in the Demon Kingdom will be livestock!” The Apostles looked at the two in shocked silence. “All but us vampires, of course.”
Nasys trembled, and Hekaron gritted his teeth.
The Minotaur Allin and Treo Nordin Wood protested.
“What do you mean by that?! That’s completely different from what you’ve promised!”
“…What on earth are you planning to do?”
“Promise? I kept my promise! That I won’t cause any damage to you bastards’ clans! But, I was talking about livestock! If you bastards pledge allegiance as livestock, I won’t cause any damage. I will only suck your blood, just enough that it won’t kill you!”
Allin gritted his teeth and ripped off the chains that were restraining his body. His muscles twitched, his bloodshot eyes glaring at Bludifer.
“As expected, this bastard isn’t qualified to be the Demon Lord!”
The Minotaur lowered his body like a bull and charged. The Werewolves tried to block him but were sent flying. Long, thick and sharp horns rushed to gore Bludifer.
Bludifer looked at Allin as he smiled and raised his fingers. Then he ordered,
“Livestock. Bow down.”
Allin’s body crumpled, and his head hit the ground. His horns ran through the floor and his body stiffened. He couldn’t move.
‘…What kind of?!’
Allin’s body wouldn’t listen to him. His blood wriggled and throbbed in his body. He forcibly rolled his eyes to glare at Bludifer.
“What did you do to my body?!”
As angry Allin yelled, Bludifer laughed.
“Hahahahaha! Right! This is how it’s supposed to be! Livestock should obey me like this!”
Nordin Wood groaned. “So it’s a curse; a contract between master and servant. He planted a curse in our blood.”
Now they couldn’t disobey him.
Even in the Demon Kingdom, only someone who was skilled in magic could lift a curse. But, there was no one among the demons who had the proper knowledge of magic, and the only one who knew about magic was Nordin Wood. As he was Bludifer’s slave, there was no one to lift the curse.
Bludifer laughed maniacally as he looked at them. 8 of the 12 Apostles, with their precious pride, were now absolutely obedient to him. Bludifer had become the ‘Demon Lord’.
‘Well, almost all of them. Of the Apostles who are not here, they’re powerless to stop me. The Demon Kingdom is mine!’
“You all are now my livestock!”
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