44. The Moon Rabbit Siblings (1)
“Selling specially-made wild demon meat! Demi-humans who want to buy! Come here!”
“Selling freshly-picked Kupang fruit! It’s fresh so have a taste and buy it!”
“Selling carnivorous fish caught from the swamp! Is there no one interested?! It’s fresh!”
The capital city of the Demon Kingdom, Dakrod, was small and poor. It was filled with ramshackle shelters and tents which were poorly constructed. The city was surrounded by a half-complete exterior wall, which was supposed to protect it in theory, but was slowly crumbling apart instead, in a state of total disrepair.
Dakrod paled in comparison to even a mid-sized human city.
It was filthy, and garbage could be seen everywhere.
Many demi-humans continued to call this place home, however. Satisfied with the fact that they had a roof over their heads, at the very least.
Even though it was late at night, the market was bustling with activity. Torches were blazing brightly while merchants sold their wares. They either set up tents on the side of the street to serve as make-shift shops, or they placed their merchandise on the ground with price tags written in front.
The shop owners sold a variety of things to their demon customers. Mountain beast meat caught from the woods, freshly picked, oddly-shaped fruits, and even liquor and bread. Many of these products were brewed and made using secret methods unique to their own species.
The delicious scent of the market could be picked up far and wide by all manner of demons and beasts. It was not uncommon for the shopkeepers to attract the attention of fellows that had no interest in buying anything but would show up anyway.
“This bastard! What do you think you’re doing?! You’re not allowed to eat any of this unless you pay up first! So get lost!”
The baby silver wolf backed away with a miserable groan. The Lizardman yelled at him while swinging his cane around.
But he was so hungry, so he couldn’t just leave.
A chunk of meat suddenly dropped right in front of the baby silver wolf.
The wolf looked up and saw a demon with a huge build. It had a bulky body with thick flesh. A troll with thick and grainy skin, just like a toad’s.
The baby silver wolf growled, feeling threatened by the huge creature. But it still grabbed the meat and ran off, disappearing into the streets.
“Oy! Oy! You trolls have a huge appetite, don’t you?” The shopkeeper asked. “Is it really okay to give away free things like that?”
“I like puppies,” the troll replied. “And that one looked hungry.”
“Puppy…? Only huge guys like you can call silver wolves ‘puppies’! Those things are vicious and grow up to be terrifying creatures!”
The Lizardman was flabbergasted.
“By the way… everyone’s in good spirits, wouldn’t you agree?”
The Lizardman took a look around and immediately understood what the troll was getting at. He couldn’t help but smile.
The demons in the Demon Kingdom were full of energy. It was all thanks to the good news. They, who used to live their days in fear and anxiety from the continuous war going on, had won. It was over.
“Victory for the Orc corps!”
The Hero’s allied forces had gathered for an all-out-attack, but in the critical moment, the Demon Lord had appeared, reversed the situation, and won the war.
The Demon Lord had intervened personally. This had a major impact. She had fought for the country, and for the people.
However, the Devil of Lania remained an issue.
“Haha! We even have the Devil of Lania on our side!”
Someone that was feared even in the Holy Kingdom. The unprecedented devil that brought down the Holy Kingdom’s capital.
Their position felt far more secure with someone like that on their side.
But on the other hand, there was an uneasy feeling as well. It felt a little strange how he had suddenly become their ally. It was suspicious.
Also, the reason the Demon Lord got killed by Heroes so often was because of the fact that every time one died the humans kept sending other Heroes their way right after. Persistently. With a stronger army, and a more powerful Hero.
It would probably be the same case this time around too.
“Still, it seems like things will quiet down for the time being! Since the Hero’s allied forces have also left!”
All of a sudden, there was a commotion in the market.
“What the hell…? That’s…?”
“Why are the vampires’ slaves here?”
Dozens of demi-humans looked towards the werewolves that were coming in through the market entrance.
Werewolves were said to be high-rank among the demons. Their legs were agile like a horse’s, their nails were like spears which could pierce through anything, and their teeth were like maces that could crush even rocks. They were forces of nature. So, it came as a relief to see these creatures shackled as slaves, rather than roaming freely.
A restrained wolf with white, long fur along their whole body, huge front feet, and massive legs approached the troll who was selling meat.
“What’s going on? Did they come to buy meat?”
The innocent-looking troll—unfittingly for his build, tilted his head and held out the meat in his hand.
“I will give you a lot of extra meat. You guys look tired.”
The werewolf ran up and grabbed the troll’s head with his front foot and smashed it against the ground.
The shop came crashing down due to the impact. The meats that were on sale fell to the ground.
The eyes of the troll filled with rage an instant later.
The troll reached out trying to throw the werewolf off of him, but the other werewolves quickly stepped in and restrained his hands.
“W-wait! What the hell are you guys doing!”
The werewolves turned and growled at the interloper.
The Lizardman was startled and stepped back.
“Some… somebody help me! These werewolves suddenly attacked an innocent troll!”
“What’s the fuss about?!”
The Orcs who were guarding the capital arrived a moment later, bringing old equipment. Pointy rocks tied to long sticks and armor made of demon bones. They aimed their spears at the werewolves.
“Oy! Slaves! What are you guys doing?! Back off! If you don’t release that troll right away now―”
The Orc’s head flew off his body in a split-second.
The demi-humans in the market screamed as the Orc was beheaded right in front of them.
“Aa… these green muscle chunks, their meat tastes horrible but their blood is actually really tasty.”
A group of Vampires with white hair and pale skin wearing luxurious white uniforms arrived.
“The chief of the trolls is dead. And since the Orcs and Ogres would obey the likes of Karakul and Kuman, they’re troublesome bastards. Restrain all of them. If they resist… kill them.”
The werewolves spread out quickly. They nimbly ran through the streets, alleys, and even along the rooftops, working hard to purge the ‘traitors’ from the capital.
The atmosphere that used to be full of life and energy was shattered. The surroundings were filled with screams in an instant.
The vampires closed their eyes and listened attentively, enjoying the experience. It was as if the screams were sweet melodies.
“Aa, I love this sound! You really need some blood to complete the experience though.”
The vampires looked at the demi-humans that were scattered all over the market and grinned.
“Well, would you look at that. There are some tasty demi-humans right there!”
The vampires pounced on them and started to suck out their blood.
Bludifer’s Demon Kingdom government was implemented in the capital later that day. Hundreds of vampires gathered up and declared that everyone except for them will be treated as livestock.
Posters were put up ordering demons to give up all their rare minerals, gems, and treasures, and demanding their blood to be offered freely.
The demi-humans who saw this were enraged.
“Do they think this makes sense?!”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Vampires are garbage! We need to kick them out!”
But their resistance didn’t go anywhere.
Since the Apostles who were in the capital had surrendered to Bludifer, there was no one to organize and direct the demons. As a result, examples were made of all the dissenters. Their blood was siphoned out and their heads were removed and skewered on top of spears, becoming morbid decorations all across the city.
After only a week, the uprising was suppressed. On the streets, thousands of demi-humans’ corpses could be seen.
Bludifer, sitting on his throne, burst out in laughter smeared with lunacy.
In front of him, there was a veritable fountain of blood, and vampires were having an orgy amidst the demi-human corpses.
They sucked each other’s blood mid-coitus.
“Easy! Too easy! This is why the Demon Kingdom is looked down upon by the humans! Why the Demon Lord always gets murdered! Overpowering these bastards is really easy! The demi-humans are livestock! It doesn’t matter if they fight to the last drop of their blood. We will still win!”
Karina hugged Bludifer from behind.
“Brother. The toys that I played with ran away.”
Bludifer recalled the moon rabbit siblings that served the Demon Lord.
It was a really rare species. Although they possessed powerful magic that could make others hallucinate, they were weak physically.
And they really lived up to their namesake. Rabbits. Creatures that couldn’t help but run away in terror at the first opportunity.
“How did their blood taste?”
“Really good, actually! The taste of weak rabbits… Aa, it’s too bad they ran away.”
“You should’ve made a follower contract with them, sister. Did you really think that just because they were slaves that they wouldn’t be able to run away? Livestock runs away all the time.”
Bludifer looked at the Apostles who were bowing their heads in the middle of the pile of bodies. They had been ordered to prostrate themselves.
“The blood of the rebels definitely tastes better, though. And since the rabbits ran away… It couldn’t be helped. I released the mongrels and ordered them to chew up our runaways.”
By mongrels she meant werewolves.
“Ah, right, did you hear the news?”
Bludifer looked at his sister.
“The Devil of Lania! The monster that made Lania, the Holy Kingdom’s old capital fall. The one that destroyed the city and filled it with corpses!”
Bludifer frowned. His face was filled with displeasure.
Even he himself didn’t possess the kind of power to make the Holy Kingdom’s capital fall single-handedly. No matter how much he struggled he would never win a battle like that. The Holy Kingdom just had too much power.
Yet the Devil of Lania had managed it.
‘…I feel offended.’
But he had heard that they were a necromancer. If they had enough demonic power that they could make hundreds or even thousands of Undead corps, then it would make more sense. Also, the capital had been empty at the time. The Holy Kingdom had formed the Golden Cross Army and left for the frontlines, so the city was much weaker than usual.
He wanted to believe that these were the only reasons why the Devil of Lania had succeeded in the end.
Bludifer just couldn’t admit that he was inferior to that Devil.
“He also killed the Hero!”
“He’s someone who brought down the Holy Kingdom by himself. Why wouldn’t he be able to kill one Hero of the Holy Kingdom?”
“But still isn’t it fun? I want to drink that monster’s blood! How would it taste? What would it be like to cut that neck open and lick up all that blood with the tip of my tongue?”
“But still… don’t underestimate that guy. He’s dangerous.”
“That monster, won’t you catch him? Won’t you turn him into livestock?”
“Of course I will! That blood is permeated with an enormous demonic power that can make thousands, even tens of thousands of undead. There will be nothing more thrilling than that! But you have to be careful in situations like these. There’s the timing to consider.”
Bludifer smacked his lips.
Actually, he didn’t feel very confident. But he couldn’t show that to his sister.
To Karina, this came across as hesitation. She wasn’t a very patient person. She was impulsive, and she had a beastly instinct which led to her doing anything for pleasure.
‘Fine. If that’s how it is, brother, then I will go with the mongrels myself! I will drink that devil’s blood like wine! If he looks good I will tame him and use him as livestock! Come to think of it, didn’t brother say he wanted the Demon Lord’s blood?’
She bit her finger in excitement. Blood soaked out and stimulated her tongue.
‘I should offer that to him as a gift!’
Lily stiffened on her throne as she heard the news. She was shocked. She bemusedly looked at Karakul as he made his report.
“Is that… true?”
“Yes. It seems like the group of vampires took control of the capital and and forced the Apostles into submission.”
Lily didn’t know how to respond.
Not only had the Vampire Apostle raised a coup d’état and taken control of the capital, the other apostles had pledged their allegiance to him.
Lily had known that there were some opposing sentiments between them, but she had never imagined that they would go this far.
‘Why did they elect me for this position?!’
If she couldn’t see something like this coming, then she felt that she was completely unsuitable for it.
Before the coup, they could have just dragged her down from her position if they didn’t like her. That was the Apostles’ authority. But instead, they had started a bloody war.
‘Do they really want my head that much?!’
“… Do the others know about this?”
“It seems like the news has spread all over.”
“I will inform you if the situation changes.”
Lily let out a sigh of resignation.
Ellin stomped angrily towards her destination. Her eyes were sharp, and her teeth were clenched.
She was not in a good mood.
The Orcs stayed as far away from her as possible so that they wouldn’t incur her wrath. They had worked with her for a long time and knew all too well how dangerous bothering her was when she was in a bad mood.
‘What happened? That Apprentice Holy Knight is the Devil of Lania? Is this true? Or am I missing something?’
She recalled what happened in the Golden Fief. She was sure at that time that the magic bullet was stuck on the Apprentice Holy Knight’s head.
He wasn’t even a demon. He was a regular human with a regular human’s skull. From that distance, the bullet should have not only pierced through his cranium, but it should have traveled out the other side as well. But instead, he had somehow survived and now he was here. On top of that, he just happened to be the Devil of Lania.
Ellin couldn’t understand.
She had so many questions.
Was it him who had turned Kelvin that way? Into a golden cross? Why? To leave a warning for the Holy Kingdom? How? For what reason? In search of answers, she came to a stop in front of the tent that Tom was staying in. There were a lot of strange things going on. She even considered the possibility of Tom being a spy for the Holy Kingdom. It wasn’t like it was impossible. By disguising himself as such an individual, deep in the Demon Kingdom, he’d be able to steal information with ease.
‘But that can’t be! Because then he wouldn’t have protected Ms. Lily and killed the Hero!’
More than anything else, that human didn’t look smart enough to be something like an informant.
“…Aa, I don’t know!”
The most efficient way was to just ask him.
But how should she ask? What would be a good thing to ask? She grabbed the tent flap and sighed. She would just ask anything that came to her mind, she decided, before opening the tent.
It was really dark inside. The only light was coming from the lantern hanging from the ceiling. In the dim light, a table slowly came into view amidst a white fog. The Orcs were sitting in a circle and in the middle of them, was Tom. Each of them had 5 cards and they were on the lookout for each other. One of the Orcs had a round, thick, long stick called a cigarette—loot they had picked up from the war with the hero’s allied forces, lit in his mouth and blew out white smoke.
The Orc put down his cards with an irritated scowl.
Another orc threw a chip made of wood into the center. It was a really serious and heavy atmosphere. Ellin’s eye-muscles started to twitch uncontrollably as she witnessed the shameless gambling in broad daylight.
“… What are you guys doing now?!”
— Ω —