58. [Third Page] Consolidated Page – Epilogue
The Demon Kingdom was united once more, with Lily Golt having won back her throne. Also, the various Chiefs of the rebels and their respective tribes were given amnesty in exchange for the revocation of their authority as Apostles. News of the demons that participated in the rebellion avoiding exile and enslavement spread throughout the kingdom like wildfire.
“I’ve heard that Her Highness granted mercy!”
“That’s a relief. Look at what happened to this nation because of those damned leeches!”
“Ha, haha! That is good news. If it wasn’t for Her Highness, we’d have all been massacred. We’d have to cross through the human territories to reach unclaimed lands! Our chances then would’ve been one in a million…”
“But, for the Chiefs to be stripped of their ranks as Apostles…?”
“We were allowed to live in return.”
Overall, the demons were relieved, but news of the Apostles’ demotion was far from the only hot topic currently being discussed.
“Ey, I heard that the Orc Chief, Karakul, pulled out his own eye.”
“I think it was to take responsibility for the battle? Because of all the demons that were slaughtered.”
“… B-but was there a need for him to take responsibility? Even if they were fellow demons, what they did was treason. Sure, they did it to avoid enslavement, but for him to personally bear responsibility…?”
The other demons couldn’t help but fall silent. Their Chiefs had been cursed, but they were still partially to blame. Even if they held ill will toward Karakul, they were also acutely aware of their role in the matter.
For the most part, Karakul’s actions and Lily’s victory were well-received, but there was still some backlash to certain changes.
“What!? A Werewolf Apostle? Does that make any sense?”
“They were rebels! How come they get a pass…!”
“For a mere slave to suddenly become an Apostle… What is Her Highness thinking…!”
Most demons had yet to forgive the Werewolves, their recent actions in the capital while under Bludifer’s control fresh on the minds of many. However, there was one other piece of news which was causing widespread uncertainty.
“… The Devil of Lania is an Apostle…?”
“I-is it ok to give the authority of an Apostle to someone like him? Will he be given control over the troops…?!”
“I’ve heard that was yet to be decided.”
“Of course, it’s reassuring to have that kind of monster standing on our side, but surely he’s not going to remain in the capital?”
To the Demons, power was symbolic, but was also something to fear. They cheered for the news that the Devil of Lania, who had toppled the capital of the Holy Kingdom, would fight for their kingdom, but his newfound authority as an Apostle was an entirely different matter. Many felt that such a mysterious being shouldn’t have been granted such power over the kingdom.
And so, 3 days passed.
Tom’s eyes twitched as he sat near the middle of the palace balcony. He had been leaning on the railing before, but had nearly fallen due to the stone crumbling under his weight. Fortunately, as it was late at night, nobody should have been walking below. Tom was relieved that he hadn’t injured someone due to his own carelessness.
Turning his head, Tom surveyed the palace’s exterior. Its interior was well-maintained, but the exterior was dreary—perhaps matching a Demon Lord-esque aesthetic a little too well. This was looking at it optimistically; it looked like a castle had been abandoned.
‘This… is a good atmosphere if we’re trying to test the nerves of the Holy Knights. We have to begin maintenance at some point…’
“Even you’re sighing.”
Karakul stepped on to the balcony. He wore an eye patch over his right eye—or what was left of it. Tom smiled awkwardly, still unused to Karakul’s new look.
“How’s the eye?”
“… It still hurts. Even though I had healed it with Holy Water, I still feel a chill when thinking back to the sensation.”
“Should I heal you? Holy Water can’t heal more than it already has, but by manifesting Arrtark, I should be able to restore your sight. How about it?”
“I’m fine. The meaning behind what I did would be lost if I regained my eye so easily.” Both of them remained silent for a moment, before Karakul peeked at Tom and asked, “… This ordeal, was it all a test?”
“Hm? What do you mean…?”
Tom looked at him quizzically.
“The Hero’s assault and the situation with Bludiferr. In reality, all of these things would have been dealt with without any significant casualties if you had stepped in immediately. So, the reason why you didn’t…” Karakul cringed as he spoke. “You were probably testing us. You were trying to see how we would deal with the situation.”
During the battle with the Hero, he watched how Karakul had commanded his troops. He took note of how Karakul dealt with the ruthless tactics of the humans, and how Karakul managed to overcome the odds when backed into a corner. Even still, in the end, Karakul lost. He undoubtedly lost to Ludin. Though Lily’s arrival had been enough to change the tide of the overall battle, Karakul was able to learn that there was no reason to hold back when lives were on the line.
When Bludiferr instigated his rebellion, Tom wanted to see how Lily would step up. Understanding her own capabilities, she had transferred all of her soldiers to Karakul without hesitation. In Karakul’s case, with the knowledge he’d gained from fighting Ludin, he was no longer afraid of holding back against his fellow demons.
Tom didn’t teach his lessons through words or actions, but by forcing those he was interested in to ‘experience’ reality. He hoped that this would allow them to gain the skills they desperately needed. Yes, the situations with the Hero and Bludifer were ultimately resolved through Tom’s involvement, but Karakul, Lily, and the other demons were thoroughly involved in the process. They learned how to defend against internal and external threats. They were able to deal with emergency situations that would cause other nations to crumble. They had experienced their nation reaching the brink of collapse, and overcome it. No ordinary kingdom would ever experience such challenges. Yet, they had been able to with Tom’s help.
“… Was it because of her Highness?”
Karakul believed that Lily Golt was placed onto the throne of the Demon Lord simply for the sake of her own safety, but that notion was extremely naive. If all he cared for was her safety, there was no reason he would place her in a position that would make her the humans prime target. His plan, as the manifestation of Arratark, was to make her a ‘ruler’—a true Demon Lord!”
‘But was it truly so uneventful? It wasn’t through meticulous planning, but through coincidence and improvising that they overcame everything…?’
Honestly, the amount of danger they’d been in was far greater than Karakul likely thought!
Tom smiled. “Maybe? What do you think? If what you say is true, I suppose I’d be quite pleased with the results. I don’t think anyone would have imagined you’d all do so well.”
The Demon Lord faction had become stronger, the demons’ disdain for her had vanished, and most of the Apostles were still alive. There was still some lingering bad blood related to the Werewolves, but nothing ever ended perfectly. This was probably the best outcome they could have hoped for.
“… Isn’t this dangerous? What if something went wrong!”
“There is no if.”
“Something like that will never happen because failure is not an option.”
Tom’s golden eyes looked squarely at Karakul, sending chills down his spine. Was it confidence? Was it arrogance? Whatever it was, a wave of faith washed over him—faith in his master.
The Devil of Lania was truly fearsome, both as an ally and as a foe; that was why he followed him.
“… I understand.”
There was nothing more for Karakul to ask. Once his master had something planned, he would follow that plan no matter what.
Tom looked down onto the city from the balcony. Underneath the starlit sky, the city was shining bright. Houses made of wood and straw. Dirt roads which seemed to snake around randomly, scant few markets lit by torchlight. Everything about this place was shabby and messy. This was a kingdom that had fallen far, far behind the human kingdoms. But now, all he had to do was take all of this and…!!
Tom’s lips curled up.
“It’s time to turn everything on its head!”
— Ω —