93. Forces (6)
When Ellin and Worlf left to meet with Demon Lord Lily, Tom had already departed from the palace. Tom, who was walking the streets of the demon capital, fell into contemplation as he gazed at the developing city.
‘It’s developing faster than I expected.’
The number of demons had exploded; perhaps the population of the kingdom had increased as well. Many were setting up brand new shops as he strolled in the streets, while others were taking part in the construction downtown. An exuberance, vastly different than the empty streets before, permeated the city.
Tom heard a lethargic voice from behind him and quickly moved aside. An ogre with a massive bulk over, standing over 3 meters tall, was carrying a few dozen wooden logs tied together with metal wire.
“…It’s definitely different.”
God gave humans unity and the demons powerful strength. However, now that even those qualities had been flipped, the demons might have become a force to be reckoned with.
Tom was headed toward the center of downtown, where the first-ever ‘Merchants’ Guild’ within the capital was located.
‘…They built it so lavishly.’
It was a building that could have been considered a three-story mansion. It was covered with beautiful engravings and there was even a goblin statue erected at the entrance. Seeing the statue, Tom burst into laughter.
“Is that Kulbo?”
The statue woere a backpack filled with various baubles and was warily gazing in the distance with a telescope in hand, as though he had been sculpted to look like Apostle Kulbo. They must have considered Goblin’s fast and accurate ability to calculate and appraise an item’s value to be suitable for a merchant’s work.
Tom stepped through the entrance of the building. The floor covered was made from glossy wooden panels and there was a counter at the end of the room made of marble. A pair of staircases led to the second floor from the left and the right. However, they were under construction since Orcs were still hauling in building materials. Tom could see that the goblins that were directing the work looked dissatisfied, glaring toward a certain group with a blueprint in hand.
They looked like short humans, sharing a similar stature to the Goblins, but had bulky bodies and thick limbs, not to mention their lengthy beards. They were the dwarves brought over from the Kingdom of Aylans by Halsem.
“Oh, oh! Look at the blueprint. Isn’t it amazing? Do you think there are any other among the Ajins that can draw with this much detail!?”
“Mmm… But several places are lacking. It almost looks like some other building was stripped down and copied. At this rate, there’s bound to be several accidents…?”
“Then, how about a few adjustments?”
The Dwarves looked at the Goblins’ blueprint with interest and judged it. The Goblins snatched it back, displeased by the idea.
“Why are you guys telling us what to do? We worked hard to make this blueprint!”
“That’s right! We took apart a building for three days to draw everything inside. Do you know how much effort that was!?”
When the goblins roared back, the Dwarves looked at each other in surprise.
“My god… you guys drew that blueprint in a mere three days?”
“Even after stripping down a building…?”
The Dwarves were shocked. Even for them, it wasn’t easy to draw a blueprint after breaking apart a whole building. For the goblins to have done all that in just three days was something praiseworthy.
“Mmm… but the technique is still amateurish.”
“Mm, doing it this way would take up too much time. Also, it’s like trying to force things to fit together? It’ll cause a problem to rebuild the building later.”
The faces of the Goblins grew red. They were angry at their construction techniques being criticized.
“W-what are you talking about! The buildings we made are all perfect!”
“What’s this nonsense? This is exact? Hah! I thought the goblins were only flimsy builders, but their eyesight must be bad as well!”
Tom looked at them and held back his laughter. The small midgets were fighting with each other, red-faced, like children making a fuss.
“What are you cracking up about over there, human!”
Tom lowered his gaze. Kulbo had arrived at some point. He had put down the bag he was always carrying with him, but there was a pen and paper in his hand. With the reformation of the Demon Kingdom, paper currency had begun circulation, and materials were being exchanged. As such, the balance of currency maintained by the Merchant Guild became more critical. This meant that Kulbo, who operated the guild, became busier as well.
Tom scanned Kulbo up and down, noticing this change, and smiled.
“It’s been a while, Kulbo.”
“Why did you guys bring these people from that shabby place called the Aylans Kingdom or whatever? Was it to give me a headache?! Augh!”
It seemed that Kulbo didn’t like the noisy Dwarves. Tom waved his hand and calmed him down.
“I heard that Halsem is coming to this place?”
Kulbo tilted his head as though he wasn’t aware of what he was talking about.
“The human that came here.”
“Ah, that strange person? He did come. I heard you’re planning on dealing with the humans through him?”
“Yes, that does seem likely. Perhaps.”
Kulbo looked doubtful before pointing a finger upward.
“He should be looking at the items right now.”
“He said something about the objects here being interesting or whatever? He’s choosing what can be sold over at the human side. Why don’t you go check it out?”
“Is that right? I appreciate it. I’ve heard that there will be a banquet in a few days. Are you planning on attending?”
“I hate such busy places. Other Goblins might go because I heard there’s delicious food there, but… Anyway, just go check him out. That human, he looked a bit nervous?”
Tom moved to where Kulbo was referring to. After ascending to the second floor, he found Halsem. Halsem was wide-eyed in surprise as his shoulders drooped in disappointment. He shouted in astonishment then tilted his head in confusion. He was going over a collection of marketable objects the Goblins had gathered for him. He rummaged through pottery and accessories, and fruits and dried meat laid out in displays, checking for something.
“Hm? Ah, Tom!”
Halsem looked over at Tom in surprise, then approached him before grabbing his shoulder and shaking him in a welcoming way. But his face suddenly grew ugly.
“Why, why did you come here so late!? I was scared! Demons here! Demons there! Do you know how scared I was?”
“…There are humans here as well; perhaps you haven’t met them yet?”
“…Other than me?”
Humans also resided in the Demon Kingdom now. A few days prior, Tom had brought over the humans that lived near the mountain range. There weren’t many, but it was enough for them to rely on each other.
“But, it looks like you’ve finally adjusted well. Working right after you arrived…? Your mind for mechantry is amazing.”
Halsem frowned at Tom’s compliment.
“I couldn’t do anything but focus since I was so scared. After I came here, I thought I’d be able to rest because I was told to sit in the waiting room, but Goblins, Orcs, and massive Ogres suddenly appeared in the building. Do you know how shocked I was?”
Halsem recalled the moment when he was in the waiting room. Once the news of a new human arriving spread, Demons stopped their construction work and loitered in the waiting room where Halsem was staying out of curiosity. To Halsem, the sight of Demons sweating, breathing roughly, and watching him with curious eyes made him think that they were planning on eating him, causing his spine to tingle.
Tom smiled bitterly at Halsem’s words. Halsem had been the very first human that cooperated with them. It had been weighing on his mind that he had left a person he was so grateful to on his own.
“I… was careless. Let’s go.”
Seeing his wariness, Tom replied,
“To the palace.”
Two days had passed since the visit from the Aylansian envoy, and despite knowing how rude it might appear, they succeeded in delaying the banquet. Now, only one thing remained: to summon an important figure through the Warp Zone.
“J-just a bit more!”
“Pour all your mana into it!”
“I-if we fail now, all our efforts will be wasted!”
“W-wait, my concentration is…”
The ambassador from Aylans was sweating and breathing roughly. His face was pale, and he felt exhaustion overwhelming his body, enough to cause his eyes to start closing.
“Just a bit more! If we fail the Warp Zone now, all the effort you’ve expended so far—the mana, blood, sweat, and tears—will disappear!”
The ambassador poured in more mana through the runes drawn onto the large scroll. Blue light began to glow finally from the runes after a few hours’ labor.
Warp magic. It was a monstrous magic spell that required dozens of skillful magicians to pour their mana with a dying effort.
‘Who’s the crazy bastard that made this magic!?’
The ambassador cursed the creator of Wap Magic in his heart as he poured everything he had, and wished he had, into it. One by one, members of the envoy drained of mana and collapsed. The magicians’ faces were nothing but skin and bones, as though they had suddenly aged several years.
“A-a bit more…!”
Was it due to their efforts? The Warp Zone poured out a much stronger light abruptly, indicating that their magic had succeeded. The particles of light gathered together and summoned a single figure.
“I-it’s a success…! But… Huh!?””
The magicians with pale complexions grew wide-eyed upon seeing the summoned person.
The banquet welcoming the Aylansian ambassador had begun. The wide hall of the palace was decorated in beautiful light and the sound of various instruments filled the space. In the serene and beautiful music, Demons wearing gorgeous dresses and sharp suits enjoyed themselves.
There was a diverse assortment of races present, including Orcs, Goblins, Waterfolk, Lizardmen, Ogres, Trolls, and more. The races varied, but they were talking to each other and enjoying the atmosphere without issue.
Lily Golt entered the banquet hall in a black dress. Luli and Lulu followed her, waiting on her, while Ellin and Worlf accompanied her in elegant suits as security. Lily’s eyes sparkled as she took in the sight of the first banquet she had organized.
“…This is what a banquet is. Everyone is dressed so nicely and conversing with a smile. It’s quite good to see.”
Hearing her words, Ellin grabbed her hand.
“Miss Lily is beautiful as well! Very, very beautiful! How could you be so beautiful~!”
“Thank you. You look quite sharp yourself.”
As Ellin replied to her with a smile, Worlf caught their attention with a cough. The pair looked surprised before looking around their surroundings. Those gathered at the banquet were all facing them.
Ellin smiled awkwardly as she slowly released Lily’s hand. She had come not to enjoy the banquet, but to act as security. It would be an especially big mistake to display such tacky behavior in front of the ambassadors.
Ellin confirmed that Karakul was not present and sighed in relief.
‘If Captain Kakarul was here, I’d get another earful.’
Lily noticed her actions and suppressed her laughter before turning back to the crowd. She still couldn’t see the ambassador from the Kingdom of Aylans.
“…Just where are the humans from Aylans?”
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