52. The Demon Kingdom (2)
Bludifer’s movement was reported to the Demon Lord Lily right away. Shock gripped Lily at the news that 5000 demons were headed her way. Her elegant, voluminous white dress swayed as she rose from her throne. She froze, her words lost, standing in place absentmindedly. Seeing her in such a state, Karakul spoke empathetically
“… Give a command.”
Command? Right! I’m their Lord. I need to lead them! But… what do I say? What to do and how to do it?
Lily’s mind went blank. Nothing like this had happened before. So far, every attempt she made to help was greeted by the backs of the Apostles. No matter the emergency, her input and efforts were neglected, and she was unable to gain any experience or glean any lesson on how to rule. So, she was at a loss of what to do now that such things were suddenly happening; all of the decisions ultimately fell upon her. More than anything, she worried about being rejected no matter what opinion she gave.
Ellin approached her and whispered to her,
“Have some confidence. You need to act more carefully and composedly.”
Though well-meaning and given to Lily because she cared for her, Ellin’s words sewed chaos in Lily’s mind. If she wasn’t careful, many demons could die; if she didn’t maintain her composure, there would be mass panic. What if she made a mistake? All these people who believed and followed her could meet a grisly end. The thought crushed her. While lost in thought, Tom entered the tent. He knelt and bowed down right next to Karakul and said,
“What do you want to do, Your Highness?”
“What I want to do…?”
“You only need to say it. We will follow what you say.”
Lily stared at Tom blankly.
“Let me protect you.”
Lily felt the corners of her heart relax. She recalled what Tom had said in the past. Even though it was said to someone else, someone named ‘Elly’ and not to her, the promise that he would protect her was engraved deep in her heart. Didn’t he keep his promise from decades ago?
“To run away…”
Karakul looked up. Lily gripped her hand tighter into a fist. She spoke and her voice thundered with dignity.
“Evacuate the civilians! Those who are prepared to fight, arm them! Additionally, the Ogre royal guards will be dismissed from their duty as the Demon Lord’s personal guard and join the Orcs to construct a stockade!”
Lily looked at Karakul.
“12 Apostle, Karakul.”
“… Go ahead.”
“Do you have the strength to block the traitors and protect our people?”
“If you order me to, I will follow your order.”
“Then I will believe you. From now on I will hand the right to give commands to the 12 Apostles, you, Karakul!”
Karakul’s eyes grew wider with shock. A Lord’s power came with their authority. Handing all the control of the armed forces to somebody else? No matter how much they trusted and believed the person, it was nonsense. Even though demons usually had less greed for authority, a ‘chance of mind’ would always exist.
A wrong choice could lead to self-destruction.
“…Uh, Ms. Lily. Shouldn’t you think carefully about that…?”
Even Ellin, who grew up under Karakul, asked carefully.
Lily smiled at her and said,
“It’s a decision I made after thinking carefully. In this kind of emergency, instead of me who doesn’t have any experience or knowledge about the battlefield, Karakul would be more skillful in handling everything. I firmly believe that he will be able to save more people.”
Lily shifted her gaze to Tom.
“Devil of Lania, I also believe in you. Though I don’t have anything to give you now, I hope you will still help us. As a king of a country, to protect my people, I’m requesting you.”
Lily approached him and reached out her hand.
“Help me. I need you.”
Tom became startled and looked down at Lily’s hand. The elegant hand in a white cotton-laced glove was stuck out to him. Tom continued to stare at Lily’s hand for a while. Lily felt strange uneasiness. It was a fear that he would refuse to help. She desperately needed his help.
“…I will do it.”
Tom reached out and held Lily’s hand.
The Orcs and Ogres moved hastily, cutting down trees and moving them. It wasn’t a difficult task, given the Orcs’ strong muscles and Ogres’ superhuman strength, to cut down trees and move them. The problem was the fact that even a sturdy stockade made of trees could easily become useless for demons.
The Treo were like living siege units and the Minotaur stormtroopers were adept at laying waste to anything in their path. With a combined attack from just those two groups, the stockade wouldn’t be able to last for even a few seconds.
Though the one whom the command of their forces was handed over to was Karakul, he was seeking a way to block the demon troops after gaining advice from Tom. Following Tom’s advice, the Orcs dug trenches at the frontline, a ways away from the stockade, and placed wooden boards over them. The trenches were filled with sharp wooden stakes and with oil.
In front of the stockade that was under construction, Ogres lifted up rocks—more akin to boulders—with great difficulty and piled them up. They stuck spears in between the gaps, kneaded mud, and used it as a sort of cement to bind the rocks together.
Karakul let out a groan, seeing everything that was being prepared. This stockade was being made not for ‘overpowering’ the demons but for ‘murdering’ them. Soon, this place would be another battleground. However, rather than humans and demons fighting each other, this would be nothing more than demons slaughtering their own kind.
Tom was on top of the stockade that was under construction. The height of the wooden stockade was around 10 meters. Though it was crude, if you look at the rocks in front of it, the speed of the construction was fairly fast.
‘… The demons’ muscular strength is exceptional. If only they had equally advanced technology, they would be incomparable to humans.’
“I boiled tea.”
Lulu brought some tea, carrying it on a tray.
“Ah, thank you.”
Tom lifted up the teacup and took a sip. He felt better with the strong, fragrant scent. He looked at Lulu and asked,
“How is Her Highness doing?”
“Well. She’s with Luli, helping the evacuees and giving the Orcs food.”
“…That’s not something the Demon Lord should be doing.”
Lulu’s expressionless face turned into a frown. Though he was her savior, so was Lily.
“Yes, though it doesn’t mesh well with the current situation. Once she’s able to manage the country, the people will be happy.”
Lulu’s ears pricked up the moment he heard a compliment.
“Yes! We’re happy!”
Tom smiled awkwardly while turning his eyes away.
The stockade was being completed soon. But at the same time, Bludifer’s troops were advancing toward them. He advanced without rest, day and night. It was a speed that would kill human troops from exhaustion; any human army would have lost half their men by now.
‘I didn’t expect him to still move during the day. Even though he has a canopy over his palanquin, I didn’t expect him to advance while risking death.’
That also showed how furious he was.
‘There is no easier opponent to deal with than those who are carried away by their feelings.’
Though the time to prepare would be tight, Bludifer’s forces would also be exhausted.
‘Who knows, this might be the most efficient way of dealing with him.’
“Huh?! What the hell? Why is that human here? You bastard! You are that holy Knight I met before, right? What happened? Don’t tell me you got caught?!”
Kulvo found Tom and shouted. He frowned as he approached Tom and scanned him from head to toe.
“Hmm… you don’t seem like you’re hurt anywhere! But you are too confident for a captive!”
Tom turned to Kulvo in shock. Beside him, Lulu bowed.
“Glad to see you, 12th Apostle, Mr. Kulvo.”
“12th Apostle?” Tom asked. “This little thing?”
“Li, little?! Hiyaa! You! Are you trying to pick a fight with me?! I didn’t like you from the start! Let’s fight! I was good back in the day!”
Tom crossed his arms and stroked his chin as he looked down at Kulvo.
“Hmm… I see. 12th Apostle! I understand. As one of Her Highness the Demon Lord’s closest advisors, you must be really wise!”
“Also the delicacy I saw before, and the outstanding skills in art! You are amazing. From what heard from Mr. Karakul, you personally drew the Demon Kingdom’s symbol? Even taking into account your status as an Apostle, your abilities are outstanding!”
“Ri, right? I’m the head of the Goblins, Mr. Kulvo!”
“Yes, except for the fact that you’re tiny, all of your other traits are good.”
“Euaaaa! You piss me off!”
Seeing Kulvo being teased, Tom laughed silently, holding his stomach while avoiding Kulvo’s eyes. It was so much fun for him to tease this little demon. The moment Kulvo tried to pounce, somebody caught him from behind.
“You’re just an apprentice Holy Knight, stop teasing Mr. Kulvo.”
It was Ellin. She wore a suit of black, heavy armor in the shape of a dress and carried a massive sword on her back. Her armor itself looked fairly solid and the blade of her big sword sparkled in the sunlight, making its sharp edge all the more visible. For the Demon Kingdom, equipment like this was considered top-class.
“Ah, it’s been a long time.”
Tom smiled softly and waved his hand toward her. Just as he was about to go literally anywhere else to avoid her, she grabbed his shoulder hard.
“… Why are you running away?”
“Running away from troublesome things is the best way to live.”
“You say things too straightforwardly!”
“You say things straightforwardly too. That’s why I’m running away.”
“… What do you think I’m going to say?”
Tom only smiled awkwardly as he avoided her eyes instead of answering. Kulvo left his seat. He was going to meet the goblins who had gathered up after hearing that Kulvo was in the Orcs camp.
Lulu left his seat to switch out with Luli.
Only Tom and Ellin were left. Ellin cleared her throat as she looked straight at him and bowed.
“I’ll introduce myself formally. I am one of the 12 Apostles, Ellin. it’s great to see you, Devil of Lania. I won’t forget your help in saving Her Highness, the Demon Lord.”
“… So sudden! What is this?”
Tom was put off by her unexpected shift in attitude. Ellin relaxed her stiff posture, shrugging as she said,
“Aah, just gratitude!”
“… Is it?”
“Why? Is it not enough? Or should I kneel down and bow and say ‘aah, thank you for saving her!’?”
“I don’t like that, sounds burdensome.”
“Then it’s done! I’ll treat you to something later as a show of gratitude!”
Ellin smiled and looked around from on top of the stockade. The Orcs’ city was located between two mountain ranges, so even without their additions, the city already had strong natural defenses. It also meant that if this place was successfully sieged, taking it back would be incredibly difficult. Ellin stared down from atop the wall, amazed at how the Orcs and Ogres were building the stockade.
“Whoa… they are doing this right somehow?”
“… I was skilled in civil engineering in the past. Once, I secretly listened to a lecture about the process of building rampart. Well, since I brought the blueprint for rampart from Lania as well…”
“Civil engineering? As a Holy Knight, you…?”
As Ellin tilted her head and asked, Tom smiled at her.
“Yes, in the past somebody faced hardships when trying to build a small house. Because of that, I studied civil engineering for almost a year.”
“Uhm… So he knows how to make a house.” Ellin muttered.
It never crossed her mind that the house he spoke of was one she knew very well, in the past.
Tom’s expression turned bitter seeing Ellin like that.
To Lily and Ellin, he was no different than a ‘stranger’. Ellin had a memory of Thoma, but nothing about Tom. Lily became another person due to reincarnation, not the Ellie he knew in the past.
Both of them were still precious for Tom, but both of them knew nothing about him. It was like their fates kept missing each other on the way.
The moment Karakul approached them Ellin stiffened and stood at attention. Karakul glanced at Ellin and said to Tom,
“There’s a problem.”
Karakul brought Tom to the place where the injured demons were gathered.
They were the demi-humans escaping from the capital. Many were hurt during their escape, with injuries ranging from minor wounds to serious, life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, the demons’ medical knowledge wasn’t at a level that was capable of helping the more seriously injured. Applying medical herbs gathered from the forest was all they could do. Even though it did have a positive effect, there were many cases of it causing certain side-effects depending on the species.
Tom frowned, peeking under some of their bandages.
“Your wound… is bad.”
‘…It needs to be amputated.’
The skin had turned black and pus was oozing out of the wound. The nerves were definitely swollen and dead.
“Can you cure them?”
It was a decision Karakul made after much thought. It wasn’t good to be overly dependent on him, but he had no choice this time.
“Could you prepare some water?” Tom said to Ellin.
“Yes, a lot of it, please give it to me in two big containers.”
Ellin ran out and quickly returned with containers with water as Tom asked her to.
Tom dipped both hands in one container. With his hands as the center, the water began to ripple before becoming clearer and brighter. It even gave off a fragrant scent. Ellin’s eyes widened as she craned her neck, looking at the water.
The bottom of the deep container could be seen clearly. Also, as if it was a mirror, Ellin’s face as well as the blue sky behind her were reflected clearly.
Tom dipped his hands into the next container. This time the water turned black.
It turned into such a murky liquid that the bottom couldn’t be seen at all. A vicious odor rose from the container as the liquid bubbled ominously.
Ellin stepped back seeing that.
Tom cupped his hands and scooped out some of the clear water, spraying it onto the demi-human’s wound. The water streamed across the demi-human’s skin, seeping into their wounds
The eyes of the injured demi-human were as wide as saucers.
A blue thread appeared out of thin air, and began sticthicing their wounds closed. Broken bones were regenerated, torn muscles were healed, and rotten flesh melted away, replaced by healthy skin.
“This is holy water. Most serious injuries, curses, diseases, and other such ailments can be cured with as much as a handful.”
Ellin looked back and forth between the demi-human’s wound and Tom, still in shock.
“… Are, are you sure you’re not an angel? The kind that the human worship! Re- really, you’re not like a messenger of God…! Oh my god… it seems like I’m going crazy! I’m starting to believe in the humans’ religion!”
“No. That can’t be right. I’m not that grand. I’m just an apprentice Holy Knight.”
“Stop bringing up that ridiculous apprentice Holy Knight title!”
Tom then scooped rotten water from the other container and threw it to the ground.
The rotten water contaminated the ground, sending a black smoke rising into the air.
“The strength has dropped a bit, but this is a nerve poison. Simply dipping them in and pulling them will paralyze demons with even the strongest vitality. In the case of humans, this is a strong poison that could kill them in as little as a day if they don’t get help.” Tom glanced at Karakul and said, “If you are reluctant to kill your opponents, at least make good use of this.”
Even the eyes of Karakul, who knew Tom’s capabilities, widened.
The water he made with good intentions became blessed holy water, while the water he made with bad intentions became a cursed poison.
Just like Ellin said, this was a power befitting a messenger of God.
‘I didn’t expect to feel so relieved he’s not an enemy.’
Karakul never expected to feel so glad to be serving him, the man he called his master.
— Ω —