Dungeon Defense - Chapter 12 - Volume 2
Chapter 1 – Quite Good Friends (Part 1)
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 20
Niflheim, Hermes’ Plaza
“I heard everything. You had a big fight with your succubus lover, right?”
“Rumors really do spread fast.”
“I’m a girl who’s a bit sensitive to trends.”
Barbatos had come to visit me at my lodging.
For some reason this distinguished Demon Lord, who was ranked 8th, had become fairly fond of me. She probably had a good impression towards me because of the incident where I had knocked Paimon off of her pedestal. Well, that wasn’t the only reason.
“Go ahead and let it all out. Why did you two fight?”
“Do you not see me applying ice still? It has only been 20 minutes since I was slapped by Lapis. Honestly, I don’t want to talk to anyone right now.”
“Oh, this poor male.”
Barbatos smiled slyly.
It was a bit annoying.
“Think carefully. Your lover is a half-breed succubus. She is an outcast who would normally get executed for merely touching a Demon Lord. If a child like that were to hit you, then she was doing so while literally putting her life on the line. What kind of misdeed could you have done to make her risk such a thing?”
“So are you saying that this is all my fault?”
“Yup. Throughout my entire life, whenever a problem occurs, males have always seemed to have a higher chance of being at fault than females.”
“You must be quite pleased to have been born as a female.”
Normally, we would not be in the position to be exchanging informal words so frankly.
Barbatos was the rank 8th Demon Lord. She had a standing army of 6,000 men and a countless number of followers under her command. She even led a huge political group known as the Plains Faction.
On the other hand, I was the rank 71st Demon Lord. Not only did I have no followers, but I was also not part of a proper faction either. I may have been overflowing with money, but that was all. Compared to Barbatos I was a mere fly.
Despite that, it felt like Barbatos vaguely wanted me to be her friend. What was I supposed to do when the other party wanted an easy-going style of speech from me first? I’ll more than gladly humor her.
“Dantalian. We may not be friends yet, but I believe that we have reached something similar to being friends.”
“That is quite the honor.”
“I’m being serious.”
That expression of hers was the reason why even if she told me that she was being serious, I felt no credibility from it.
“Most of the Demons Lords are a bunch of trash. None of them are promising. Yet, you’re the first rookie in 60 years to appear to be talented. I just wanted to treat you nicely as your senior in this business industry.”
A senior, huh.
Barbatos led the group known as the ‘Plains Faction’. This faction gained its name due to the fact that most of the Demon Lords who were in this group had castles that were located on the plains. As a result of residing in an open area, encounters with humans were frequent.
Thus, Barbatos naturally became a Demon Lord hostile towards humans. If the Demon Lord armies were to ever invade the human world, then Barbatos would, with no doubt, be the one to lead them. She had spread an information network across the human world and was constantly on watch as she prepared for a massive war.
On the other hand, Paimon, the Demon Lord that I had crushed, was known as the head of the ‘Mountain Faction’. As the name literally suggests, this faction consisted mostly of Demon Lords with castles located on the rugged mountain region, where they seldom met with humans face to face.
The Plains Faction and the Mountain Faction were locked in a rivalry.
Would the Aggressive Faction and the Moderate Faction be more appropriate?
So when Barbatos had called herself a ‘senior’ and myself a ‘rookie’, she was indirectly trying to lure me into her own faction. It was a statement with a plot in mind.
I gave a subtle glance at Barbatos.
“What’s your point.”
“If you’re trying to break up with that succubus lover of yours, then I can help. In the first place, it doesn’t make sense for an outcast to be having sex with a Demon Lord. It’s not too late yet, so ask for my help.”
We gazed at each other for a moment.
“Are you telling me to break up with Lapis?”
“Why? Are you embarrassed? Don’t worry about it. As much as people get quickly excited here, that excitement also goes away just as fast. Give it a year and people will have long forgotten that you ever fornificated with an outcast.”
Barbatos had spoken as if it was nothing of real importance.
I narrowed my brows.
“You’re not the one who gets to decide what happens between Lapis and I, I am. Don’t get too deeply involved with someone else’s love life.”
“Usually, I’m not this nosy. But you’re not a normal kid. You’re the big rookie that was able to get a blow on Paimon. As a senior Demon Lord, I have the obligation to show some concern for my junior’s reputation.”
Barbatos crossed her legs.
Pure white thighs and calves entered my vision.
“Of course, it won’t be easy breaking up with the lover that you showed so much affection for. I understand. But people grow stronger each time they lose their love, kid.”
“The only significance love has is that it reveals your weakness. People don’t grow stronger through experiencing or giving love, they grow stronger after throwing it away.”
I twisted the edges of my mouth.
“Is that really how it is?”
“Sure it is. Trust me. Despite my appearance, I’ve lived for 500 years already. The amount of lovers I’ve had a relationship with up till now is over 1,000. If you listen to my love advice then beautiful women will give you fellatio even if you’re just lying down.”
It was a smile that was as sly as an alley cat.
“Anyways, just tell me what led up to this split up. Let everything out and allow your mind to feel at ease. If you let it all out then you should feel lighter.”
I stayed silent for a while.
What happened to make Lapis Lazuli slap me.
The situation behind this was much too large. It contained a story that was so complexly twisted together that I had no idea where to start.
I opened my mouth slowly.
“Half a month ago an old woman visited.”
“At first, I thought she was just some beggar. Her appearance was pitiable and dirty, after all. But I soon found out that she wasn’t a mere bum. The old woman was……”
I closed my eyes for a second.
I could remember the entire scene distinctively.
“That old woman was Lapis’ mother.”
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 3
Niflheim, Governor’s Palace
“I see. So you’re Lala’s birth mother. What has brought you here?”
“Yes, oh great lord. This humble one has heard news of her daughter, whom this one has been roaming many years in search for. Despite having to risk discourtesy, this one had turned her path here, to your highness.”
An incredibly wrinkled old woman spoke.
I personally poured the old lady a cup of tea. She insisted that it was too much of an honor and tried to refuse many times, but despite my appearance, I put respecting the elderly foremost. Additionally, if this person was Lapis Lazuli’s mother then the game was over. Would that not make her my mother-in-law?
“Please do not make my kindness go to waste.”
“T-Thank you very much.”
The old lady, as if there was no other choice, carefully received the first glass of tea. Despite her actions, it didn’t feel like she truly disliked it.
“You said you have been roaming around in search for Lala, correct?”
“Yes, your highness.”
“To my knowledge, Lala became an orphan at a very young age. When she had gained her senses, her parents were already gone. This may be rude of me to say, but I thought that you had thrown Lala away and ran off on your own……”
“Oh no. That is not correct.”
The old lady had begun to shed tears.
“This humble woman was banished from her village as soon as she had given birth to that child. The mayor had chased this one away. A succubus who had made a matrimonial contract with a mere human could not possibly be accepted as a part of the village. That was our village’s rule.”
I listened to this old woman’s life story without a word.
“This one had given birth to the child on a cold winter day. This humble one’s conscious was still coming to and fro and yet the mayor had suddenly ordered this one to leave. This humble one pleaded stubbornly for more time…… for a week or at least for one more day. But it was to no avail. This lowly one was expelled from the village without having been able to breastfeed her own child once.……”
The old woman lowered her tea-cup and got on her knees.
She crawled to me and grasped my left hand.
“Oh great lord. The only thing this woman of humble birth had left behind for that child is her name, Lapis Lazuli. Her father had the same lapis colored eyes, and thus this one had named her so. That child is most certainly this humble woman’s daughter. Please, if this one could see her daughter’s face…… see if her daughter is doing well…… that is this woman of humble birth’s only wish.”
This old lady’s plea most certainly touched my heart.
A succubus who bore a child because of her affection towards a human.
By nature, marriage between a demon and a human was prohibited. This old lady, for having violated such a taboo, was exiled and had lost her daughter. For a scar formed because of a single summer night love, one could only see it as severe.
“I see. I shall arrange for you to meet Lapis.”
“I-Is that true!? Thank you. Thank you very much, your highness!”
“A mother is meeting her child. I’m merely granting something that is obvious. There is no reason for you to be thanking me.”
I called for Lapis Lazuli to enter the room.
Shortly after, Lapis Lazuli, wearing the same as usual tidy uniform, arrived. Lala had glanced at the old woman but it seems she was unable to recognize who the woman was.
“Did your highness call for this one?”
“Lala. My eternal lover and loyal subject.”
“……Why is your highness behaving like that all of a sudden? Whenever your highness starts to imitate a weird way of speech, this one can’t help but feel a strange anxiety.”
“Examine this old woman here. Do you recognize her, perhaps?”
Lapis Lazuli narrowed her brows.
It was a face displaying that she had no idea.
“This one is sorry, but this individual is an utter stranger to this one.”
“Look more carefully. Do you truly not know?”
“This one is unable to guess what your highness is thinking.”
It was then that the old lady started to approach Lapis Lazuli.
While letting out a cry, the old lady hugged Lala.
“Aah……! My child! This is certainly my child!”
Due to the sudden situation, Lapis Lazuli froze. Instead of appearing confused, she more looked as if she was unable to understand what was happening. It was that kind of feeling. Lala turned to look this way.
“Your highness. Please explain.”
“As you heard just now, that person is your birth mother. Of course, there are many things that must be confirmed first, but surely a person wouldn’t tell a lie while in the presence of a Demon Lord, when the truth could be revealed at any time.”
I felt somewhat proud.
An orphan was able to reunite with their parent. Even for myself, who always thought pessimistically, I couldn’t help but be touched by this reunion. I leisurely waited for the words ‘thank you’ to come out from Lapis Lazuli’s mouth.
Lapis Lazuli was strange.
A peculiar emotion had appeared in her eyes for an instant. It was truly a short moment. If one were to calculate the time, then it was as short as a blink. Lapis Lazuli’s face was indifferent—perhaps too indifferent.
Despite not knowing what exactly that emotion was.
It was certain that it wasn’t the type of expression a person should have made when meeting their own mother for the first time in decades.
I quickly made a decision.
“Yes, your highness.”
Without asking any questions, Lapis Lazuli knelt down. I wonder if the old woman was confused by the sudden order I had given, but she was looking back and forth between Lapis and I with a bewildered gaze.
I approached Lazuli and swung my right hand. It wasn’t a joke. I had properly put strength into my arm and slapped her. Lapis Lazuli, unable to withstand the force, fell onto the floor. As soon as this happened, the old woman let out a sharp scream.
“W-What is your highness! What is your highness doing!?”
“Be silent, you shallow-minded succubus. Say another word and I will slice off your tongue and shove it into your ear.”
I ignored the old woman’s cry and grabbed Lapis Lazuli by the hair. I then lifted Lala’s body up by force. Lapis Lazuli didn’t let out a single sound and simply looked up at me with emotionless eyes.
“Confess. Did you dare to use dirty tricks?”
“……This one has found out for the first time that your highness is a lot more violent than this one had originally thought.”
“You’re quite good at shamelessly moving your trap like that. Did you become blinded just because you had gained my royal grace? I had allowed a mere peasant like you to stand by my side and now you want me to treat your parent as well? Speak. Am I your lord or your coin bag?”
I glanced slightly at the old woman and could see her lips trembling.
It seems she couldn’t understand what was going on before her.
“Your mother did not come looking for you. You’re the one who probably found your mother first. You and your mother planned this unamusing performance to ridicule me, am I right?”
“That’s not possible…… great lord, it’s a misunderstanding!”
The old lady shouted out as if she was screaming.
“This humble one has only met her daughter for the first time today! There was no occasion of this one and her daughter meeting beforehand and devising a plot against your highness. Please believe this one!”
“I know very well how crafty your daughter is. Always trying to fool me and stab me in the back whenever she gets the chance. This is the same. It wasn’t enough that you alone were living in wealth, so you brought in your own mother. You disgraceful woman.”
I slapped Lala’s cheek once more.
Once, twice, thrice, I continued to hit her.
Each time the old lady screamed over and over again. But that was it. Once I had taken out a dagger the old woman hurriedly ran out of the room and escaped off to somewhere.
The reception room was silent.
Lapis Lazuli stood up and silently dusted her skirt. Lala’s face was still expressionless, and it seems she didn’t feel any particular pain from her swollen red cheek.
I stabbed the blade into the table.
“It was a lie. Your mother ridiculed us with her lie, Lala! She didn’t come looking for you because she was worried, she probably planned to simply latch onto you like some parasite.”
“That is most likely correct.”
Lapis Lazuli spoke calmly.
“This one has been officially approved as your highness Dantalian’s mistress. Adding to that, your highness has also joined the ranks of the wealthiest people on the continent. This one’s mother had mostly likely approached your highness and this one aiming for our wealth.”
“To run away by herself when her own daughter was being beaten……!”
It was a simple but extreme test.
To confirm what the old woman’s true intentions were.
If that old woman had truly wandered for 40 years in search for her child, then there was no chance that she would stand by idly and allow the violence to happen. She would have tried to stop me even if she had to risk her own life.
However, that old hag had ran away much too easily. What did this mean? It meant that that old woman, as a mother, did not love or treasure Lapis Lazuli.
The likelihood of her visit here was ten to one for money. She most likely crawled her way here to lean on her daughter and live a life of luxury. My heart became pitch-black with rage.
“For the person who had irresponsibly copulated with a man, irresponsibly had a child, and irresponsibly ran away from the village by herself— to try and come back and act as a mother now! How barefaced could someone be after abandoning their child for 40 years!”
“I’ll kill her!”
“I’ll cut off her tongue, break her limbs, and throw her in a pig sty. It’s only appropriate for that kind of mongrel to receive divine punishment. If the Gods are neglecting their duty then there’s no choice but for me to punish her in their stead!”
Lapis Lazuli looked straight at me.
“Compose yourself. There is no reason for your highness to dirty your hands.”
“No, there is more than enough reason, Lala. You are my lover. Be it a false cover or not you are still my fiancée. The ridicule you receive thus becomes my humiliation. The ridicule I receive thus becomes your humiliation. How could there possibly be no value!?”
“Don’t worry. How could I possibly tell you to kill your own mother. Just wait patiently. I’ll take care of it discretely. I’ll make sure to not allow that kind of trash from ever intervening with your life ever again. First bribe the guards and……”
I wasn’t able to comprehend what had happened to me for a moment.
It was because it was something that I had never expected to happen.
I looked at Lapis Lazuli with a dazed face, still unable to believe what had happened.
“This one said to compose yourself.”
The feeling in my chest settled down.
Lala had slapped me just now.
That itself was not a problem. Did I not also hit her cheek several times earlier? An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. She naturally had the rights to hit me as well. However, the fact that ‘Lazuli had hit me’ was what gave me a shock.
“Has your highness finally calmed down?”
“I’m sorry. I did not hit you earlier because I wanted to. I apologize for swinging my hand like some brute. I really am. But I had to make sure if your mother was being sincere or not.”
I spoke in a low voice.
“If I did not properly make this fact clear, then I thought that in the end, you’d be the one to be hurt. At the price of becoming the bad guy, I wanted to guarantee your safety. I will vow on this, I did not have any ulterior motive.”
“This one knows, but that is not the problem.”
Lapis Lazuli shook her head.
“There is no reason to apologize for hitting this one. This one is a peasant. Just being by your highness Dantalian’s side this one is able to bask in an undeserved privilege. The real problem is something else.”
“What do you mean by the real problem……?”
“Does your highness not know?”
This type of questions drove me mad.
The other person had the answer but I did not. If that was so, then I should have the right to at least know the question, but for some reason the other person held back both the answer and the question. Was this not excessively unfair?
“Lala. I do not wish to have a debate with you.”
“It is not a debate.”
Lapis Lazuli bowed her head.
“It is a simple test.”
And then Lala left the room.
Without asking for my permission to be excused.
I suddenly found myself alone in the room and blankly stared at the empty space in front of me. It was then that a half-transparent notice window appeared.
[Lapis Lazuli’s affection went down by 1.]
For a long time I stared vacantly at the notice. Because there was no one else in the room to hear my words, I muttered weakly towards the empty air.
“…… What was the problem?”
The sound of birds chirping could be heard through the window.
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 20
Niflheim, Hermes’ Plaza
“What was the problem?”
Barbatos looked as if she was at a loss for words.
It was the kind of face that looked as if she wanted me to bite my tongue and commit suicide.
“You tried to kill your lover’s mom!”
“Oh Goddess Persephone. Good God. Why you haven’t taken away this idiotic wuss yet is beyond me.”
Barbatos covered her forehead with her hand.
“Dantalian. Do you want me to tell you really, really honestly?”
“A truthful answer would be much better than a hypocritical answer.”
“Before hearing your story, I sincerely advised you to break up with your succubus lover, right? But now it’s really vague. You retard. If you’re going to be slapped by an outcast, then you deserved to have been slapped hundreds and thousands of times.”
“Oi. What would you have done then?”
I lowered the ice pack.
The cheek that was slapped by Lala was still hot.
“There’s a girl that you really love. But this girl, disregarding her own volition, was born into this world purely because of her parent’s mistake. As soon as she had left the womb she was immediately branded as an ‘outcast’. Even now, Barbatos, you disregard her as well.”
Barbatos creased her brows.
“I don’t ignore people based on social status. I differentiate them.”
“You mean discriminate. Anyways, that’s fine. In brief, the main culprit to make Lapis Lazuli’s life turn into a gutter was that old hag. What was I supposed to do? What would you have done?”
The people who I despised the most was the group of individuals that had a child irresponsibly. My father had done so, and so had my mother.
Normal people couldn’t understand how frustrating it was for a child whose life was already ruined at the age of 10. However, compared to Lala, my life could be considered as a blessing. Her life was crumpled up like a piece of aluminum foil since the age of 1.
“I can’t forgive that old woman. Forgiving her would be wrong. Damn it. I shouldn’t have worried about what Lapis had in mind and just killed that woman then and there.”
With a sound effect a hologram displayed in front of me.
[The other party is disappointed in you.]
[Demon Lord Barbatos’ affection went down by 3.]
“You’re quite the twisted guy, aren’t you.”
Barbatos gave me a look of sympathy.
“You look perfectly fine but the inside of your skull is defective. You don’t even realize that you look like a mental patient right now, do you?”
“I’m perfectly normal.”
“There are two types of people who claim that they are perfectly normal. One is a murderer, and the other is a soon to be murderer.”
Barbatos lowered her back slightly.
She stared at me very seriously.
“Anyone will make mistakes as they live their life. Of course, if they make a mistake then they should be punished. Up to that point is fine. But you’re stating that the punishment must be execution no matter what. And at your lover’s birth mother, at that.”
“If there is a whore who deserves to die, then they should.”
Barbatos let out a sigh.
“…… Did you say your lover’s name was Lapis Lazuli? Damn she’s admirable. How the hell was she able to deal with you? If it were me, I’d have cut your balls off and ran away long time ago. You two really should just break up.”
“Are you taking my side right now or Lala’s?”
“I don’t know, you idiot.”
Barbatos scratched her head.
“I was hoping that an actual useful rookie had appeared after such a long time, but isn’t he just a complete mental patient? Haaa, my fate is always like this…… If you take out his love affairs then he sort of seems okay, but how the hell do I make this retard function like an actual person……”
“Hello? I can hear everything you’re saying.”
“Of course you did since I wanted you to hear it. Mr. Bitch, I’m thinking in a present progressive form on whether if I should appoint myself to be your nanny. This is quite the deep shit.”
Barbatos clutched her forehead and groaned.
It was like she was contemplating on how deep she was planning to step into someone else’s life.
If you become concerned with another person’s personal problem then you’d most likely end up in an endless swamp. Barbatos was probably thinking about that sticky feeling.
I wonder if she had finally made a decision.
“……Okay. Keep talking.”
Barbatos had an expression that appeared as if she had resigned herself to a knot somewhere in her mind.
“Keep talking? About what?”
“You dumbass. I’m talking about your love business. From what you’ve told me up till now, it doesn’t seem like there’s a huge problem between you and your succubus lover yet. You may have quarreled but that wasn’t a big enough fight to result in a break up. Just what kind of shit did you pull during the rest of the month that made that kid so appalled at you?”
“I see you’re talking in a tone as if you’re already certain that I’m the one at fault.”
“Yeah. I’m certain. If you think it’s unfair then prove your innocence, tsk……”
Barbatos gazed out the window.
It was still mid-day so the outside was bright.
As if she was estimating the weight of the sunlight, Barbatos narrowed her eyes. The sunlight polished her calves and slid down them.
Honestly speaking, it was charming.
Even the sunlight would be pleased by the fact that it had kissed Barbatos’ leg. There was no doubt that it’d at least be happier than falling onto my head. If it weren’t for her childish figure, then I may have even fallen for her.
“……Oi. Where are you looking at?”
Barbatos was glaring this way as if she was looking at something rotten.
I responded honestly.
“I was admiring your leg.”
“It’s not free so if you want to admire them then pay up.”
“You can just look at my leg instead.”
“Say that after you shave all your leg hair.”
“I obtained information.”
Barbatos tilted her head.
“A small letter. There was no name and no sender written on it. Only two sentences were written on it with a quill pen. The content was quite memorable.”
I took out a piece of paper from my pocket and passed it over.
|You have an enemy.10 days from now, an army of 2,000 men will invade your Demon Lord castle.|
Barbatos let out a noise from her nose.
“A straight up threat is written here, huh.”
“I see it more as a warning than a threat.”
“Why? Even at glance it looks like a bluff.”
“Look at the lines carefully, Barbatos. It may only be two sentences but many contexts implications are hidden within them. First, ‘You have an enemy’ is written here. This is subtly hinting that ‘I am not your enemy’.”
This was too mild to be treated as a threat letter.
That was why when I had received this message a month ago, Lala and I had contemplated about it.
Who, with what intention, would have sent this kind of letter.
“Looking at the writing style, the personage who had written this letter is of the upperclass and has received professional education. By the way the words are slightly tilted, you can judge the person is either right-handed or ambidextrous.”
“…… You can tell all that?”
“This is all nothing more than assumptions.”
I leaned back into the chair.
I continued talking in a comfortable position.
“There’s also a high chance that the person is engaged in business at the top.”
Barbatos creased her brows.
“Haa? Why the top?”
“If you have eyes then look at the number.”
|10 days from now, an army of 2,000 men will invade your Demon Lord castle.|
“There’s a comma between the 2 and 0. That’s why there’s a high chance that the person is working in a high position.”
Barbatos still had a confused face.
It seemed that this violent child of a Demon Lord was not good at turning her head in this kind of places. I let out a sigh and kindly explained it for her.
“Normal people don’t put a comma when writing numbers in the thousands. They usually write it as 2000 without any special symbol. But the person to have written this letter had habitually added a comma.”
Thus meaning, a person who normally worked with a large amount of money.
A person who would always put a comma whenever three 0’s were besides each other.
A person who interacted with large numbers like 1,000,000 on a day-to-day basis.
“There’s no doubt that this person deals with either accounting documents or ledgers frequently. This person could be a grand chamberlain for a territory, or they could be a merchant that works in a high position.”
“Is that so……”
Barbatos made a wry face as she looked down at the letter.
“Your brain really isn’t there for nothing.”
“Don’t be moved already. There’s still 5 hidden truths in this letter. But if I were explain each and every one of them then I’d die of boredom, so I’ll skip them.”
Since olden times, secrets were similar to sex.
When taking off your partner’s clothes you had to carefully remove a single layer at a time. What enjoyment could you possibly get for ripping their clothes off all at once?
Everything was at its highest point of beauty when half-stripped. Like a woman who was only half revealed would be more charming than a fully nude woman, secrets had the best taste when only stripped here and there and then cooked.
C’est si bon.
“This guy is a completely perverted bastard, isn’t he?”
After listening to my esthetics, Barbatos’ face distorted.
“Anyways, you’re saying that there’s a high possibility that the culprit is a merchant, right?”
“Mm. At least from the outside.”
I scratched my forehead.
“Thankfully, I have a deep friendship with merchants. If, perhaps, the person to have sent this letter really was a merchant and was merely playing a prank, then it would be more than easy to catch the culprit.”
I smiled smoothly.
“I told you. Merchants are my friends.”