94. Forces (7)
At Lily’s words, Worlf said,
“They said they’re not feeling well, but the meeting is too important to miss. They asked you to wait.”
“Is that so?”
Lily let out a sigh of relief. She was afraid that the Aylans Kingdom would refuse to come because it was a ‘banquet held by Demons’.
Lily shifted her gaze around the banquet hall. Her eyes met another man.
Her beast ears perked up. It felt like forever since the last time they had seen each other. No, they hadn’t even had a proper conversation since Tom introduced someone called Halsem, face to face with Lily for a moment before disappearing once more the day he came back.
Lily wanted his evaluation of the Demon Kingdom and her work, but Tom didn’t even give her the chance to ask. Lily smiled and raised her hand toward Tom. He gave a curt nod in response before shifting his gaze elsewhere. Lily felt some of her strength leave her.
‘Why is he avoiding me?’
She wanted to speak with him, if just for a moment. Then, a Lizardman who was introducing people coming in at the entrance, loudly announced,
“The Ambassador of the Aylans Kingdom has arrived-!”
Everyone’s eyes were focused on the door. The ambassador entered the hall as the lobby’s door opened, and many Demons were struck with surprise.
“I thought some majestic-looking person would come since they said ‘ambassador,’ but it’s just a bunch of old men.”
“Look at those wrinkles and manes. They must have been piling up wisdom for many years.”
“They must be using those sticks to support their bodies because the power of their magic is so staggering.”
The Demons praised them for their appearance, but unbeknownst to them, the Ambassador and his men wore looks of misery. Their eyes were shadowed with fatigue, their faces were pale, and their hair had become split and unkempt. Any ordinary human would see them as old men on the verge of collapsing.
Tom smiled bitterly.
‘Did they use Warp Magic?’
Tom assumed that the ambassador must’ve used Warp Magic to bring someone here. They risked offending their hosts by delaying the banquet, to buy time for the spell. It also showed how vital it was to them that an important figure attend this banquet.
The ambassador and his men split to the left and right and struck their staffs onto the floor, standing tall with dignity. They then bowed their heads.
The one who was summoned through warp magic would come in soon. Tom lifted his wine glass to his mouth.
‘Who will it be?’
King Paulie didn’t have children. There were only a handful of suitable people they could have chosen. Perhaps a duke or marquess. Somebody with that level of authority at least.
‘But, that person is coming to the Demon Kingdom of their own volition? They’d likely be somebody with an open mind…?’
Tom’s eyes widened just as the Lizardman shouted again.
“Queen of the Aylans Kingdom, Her Highness Akareal Morgana has arrived-!”
King Paulie’s wife, the Queen of the Aylans Kingdom, took elegant and graceful steps into the hall, her long dress trailing on the floor behind her. The demons let out exclamations.
“…Does that mean that they want to improve their relationship with us that much?”
The demons were showing extremely positive reactions, but dejection fell upon Tom.
“…Oh my God, I didn’t think Akareal would come.”
‘…King Paulie is also not in his right mind. I can’t believe he sent the Queen all the way to a former enemy country that just recently agreed to an alliance.’
King Paulie’s love for Akareal was famous. What was his purpose in sending her as the kingdom’s official representative? No matter how important this meeting was, it still didn’t make sense!
Tom shook his head.
Lily was shocked, too.
‘The queen consort herself is in attendance…?’
“Whoa… what a beautiful person. Is she the wife of that King Paulie?”
Ellin showed her admiration. Akareal looked to Lily and Ellin. Her purple eyes widened and trembled unexpectedly. Lily and Ellin recognized it in a moment.
‘…What was that?’
‘…Has she met me before?’
Akareal regained her composure and bowed her head to Lily, lightly curtsying her dress.
“I’m Aylans Kingdom’s Queen, Akareal Morgana. Thank you, Demon Kingdom’s Queen Regnant, for having me.”
Lily smiled at Akareal.
“I’m thankful instead. Aylans Kingdom’s Queen. Welcome.”
Tom, watching from afar, felt uneasy. Both Lily and Ellin resembled Ellie’s from the past. They were so alike that people could believe that they were the same person or twins. Akareal had met Ellie before. It may be awkward if Ellie were mentioned.
‘Lily is Ellie’s reincarnation. There wouldn’t be any problem since she doesn’t have any memory of her…’
Knowing that Tom shifted his gaze to Ellin. It would be troublesome, in more ways than one, if Ellin heard things about Ellie.
“Man, why are you groaning like that?”
Tom’s attention turned to the man next to him. Halsem, neatly-dressed, stood uncomfortably. He held a wine glass in his hand, gesturing with it ostensibly.
“Hmm? Ah, this is my first time to be in this kind of event. I don’t know how to behave… plus…!” Halsem looked around and whispered in Tom’s ear. “… I’m the first human ever to interact with the Demon Kingdom! Don’t you think I have to look cool? What do you think? Do I look natural?”
“Being natural is best. Just be natural. Naturally.”
When Tom shifted his gaze back Akareal, Lily, and Ellin had sat together and started talking.
Allin struck the huge farming tool into the ground. Dirt exploded everywhere, and a loud thud shook the field. Human farmers more than a few feet away stiffened as a cloud of dust spread in all directions.
“You bastard! You can’t just ruin the field like that! You look like a cow but behave like a boar!”
An old human in command of field farming barked at Allin.
Allin looked at the human, but the old man frowned and looked back at Allin unfazed. The old man had been glared at in the same manner for months.
“Heng! So what if you’re glaring at me? Just get back to work quickly! It would be a burden for the others if you can’t restore the field you’ve ruined by the end of today!”
“Tsk, I’m doing it. I am.”
Allin snorted and held the farming tool.
“Look at that. All the other cows except you are working so hard. Take them working hard as an example to learn from!”
The old man pointed at the other Minotaurs. Allin let out a long sigh, seeing his kin working hard to plow the field.
‘…I can’t believe our honorable clan is doing field work.’
His punishment for Bludifer’s coup d’état wasn’t simply losing his place as an Apostle. He didn’t mind either way; he enjoyed working for others! But…
‘…I hate working in front of that bastard.’
Allin glanced over his shoulder and spied Karakul. He was ordering the Orcs who came with him to construct buildings in the area of the capital where the humans were settled.
“Oy, you,” Allin said. “Are you not attending the banquet?”
“I don’t want to go to such a complicated affair. More than anything the construction here hasn’t been finished yet. There’s still a lot of work left to do to restore the capital. It wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t use the army.”
“Allin snorted, then said, “I’d probably get more done if you’d gone.”
“…I’d probably get more done if you’d gone,” Karakul spat back. “My eardrums are on the verge of exploding at the sound of your breath.”
Allin’s eyes twitched in contempt.
“You want to try me, Karakul?”
“This bastard! I’d rather you work faster!”
Allin’s expression hardened at the old man’s shout. The other young farmers, sensing a fight, hurriedly tried to hold back the old man.
“Sir! It’s dangerous!”
“Please… control yourself! They’re not cows!”
“Danger? Is that what you think!? These bastards! These bastards are not that dangerous! They’re pretty gentle, aren’t they!?”
The muscles on Allin’s eyes twitched at what the old man said.
‘Gentle? He really does think of me like a cow! Damn it.’
Allin cursed to himself and tossed aside the farming tool.
Service time ended soon after. The old man who shouted approached with a basket and held it out toward Allin. Allin looked down and found a wide selection of fruit within.
“You’ve worked hard. It’s only a small amount, but take it. They’re fresh; just harvested.”
Allin received it and left. Thinking back, he noted that the old man’s gaze hadn’t been unkind.
“…I’m surprised that a human like you isn’t afraid of Allin.”
The old man turned around. Karakul was quickly approaching. He smacked his lips.
“I’m not scared? Of course I am! Since he looks scary and has a terrifying power there’s no way i wouldn’t be! But,” the old man turned his gaze back to Allin, who was already a good distance away, and said, “he’s not a bad guy. I would know after living with him these past months. Search the world to find anyone as diligent even while complaining, like him!”
Karakul looked at Allin. He was absolutely obedient to Demon Lord’s orders, treating any task she gave him as penance for his sins. He hadn’t refused anything, even when ordered to move the army or to do service work like this.
Most of the humans settled in the Demon Kingdom were still avoiding the demons, but some of them were gradually opening their hearts, like the old man. Karakul felt that the world was gradually changing.
Karakul looked behind him. An Orc approached him and whispered into his ear.
“…We received information about the Doppelganger who invaded the Holy Kingdom.”
— Ω —