Chapter 1 – Darkness
I do not have a religion.
My father scoffed at religion. He has always been a man who would scoff at things frequently.
To my father, religion was opium for the weak and, by extension, a factory that created weak people. My father wanted his household to be a hunting ground that raised the strong. Even a gap where opium could be planted was not allowed in his household.
My father had once sat at the dining table and said this:
“The trend of religion has passed. To be a little more exact, even now, the trend is in the middle of withering away.”
It was obvious what my father wanted from his children. He wanted us to grow up into beasts that could rip through anything. Religion was the easiest livestock to rip the flesh off of. My father’s scoffing was easily passed down onto us.
At that time, besides us, our mothers were also seated at the dining room table, but there was one among them who was religious. From what I can remember, she was from a family that had very strict religious traditions. Nevertheless, I have never seen her give a retort to my father’s jeers.
She would simply pray by herself for 5 seconds before every meal. By doing so, she would narrowly overlook the various responses. My father would end up smiling bitterly before saying,
‘Well. It can’t be helped.’
At those times, his tone would nearly sound as if he were simply allowing his silly lover to have her few seconds of freedom.
She behaved like a heretic with deep sins. She didn’t raise her voice when memorizing scriptures, nor did she meet up with other believers in private. No, she didn’t even preach to her own child about religious doctrines. A silent tribute before a meal. 5 seconds. It felt as if that was all there was to her faith.
The time I witnessed the sight of her praying was almost close to a coincidence. Looking back at it now, I’m uncertain whether that was actually a prayer or not. Every once in a while, trivially peculiar things happen to me. During those times, I have trivially peculiar thoughts. This story is like that as well.
I had shut myself in the study on that day. I had done so because the mothers were occupying the living room and having a large quarrel. They were so loud that the sound of the argument between mothers had even seeped through the door crevice of the study.
— This is my home. My and that person’s home. How dare you uneducated people thoughtlessly set foot······.
— If someone here is going to leave, then it should be you! It’s all your fault after all. Last time and this time as well, all of it······.
— Please, if we think before we speak, then······.
Arguments like this occurred at the drop of a hat.
There was nothing significant about it. No matter how loud their dispute on whether I’m the whore or she’s the whore got, the mothers were consistent when it came to turning a blind eye to what was actually the most important conclusion, in other words, the fact that it was my father who was the worst motherfucker in the universe. At the very least, it was like that when they fought among themselves. In this house, as my father was like an inviolable existence, to them, everyone excluding themselves was a whore.
In that moment, someone had run into the study. It was her. She must have been struck by someone as her lips were bleeding. Soon after, something bewildering occurred. The moment she and I made eye contact, she burst into tears.
I calmly comforted her and stroked her shoulder. I wonder how much time passed. She grasped my hand and wept.
“Forgive your mothers. Forgive your father. Forgive us. Every day, aah. Truly, I repent my sins every day······ Truly······.”
It felt as if I had been slapped since my head went blank.
She continued to mutter while keeping her head lowered.
“Please forgive us. As I shall repent my sins, please take pity on the sins which I could not repent. Please forgive us······.”
The person who she was pleading for forgiveness from was most likely not me. She wasn’t crying to me, but to her God after all.
At a glance, it felt as if she had succeeded. As her cries traveled an incredible distance when she wept, it almost sounded as if it were not here.
How desperate her voice was. It was to an extent that it nearly fooled even me. If she had not shed her tears on me, if her tears had not stained my clothes, then there was a chance that I might have actually believed that God had heard her cries.
At the very most, the only place where her tears could drench was my clothes. The only place that would willingly be drenched by her tears was also my clothes. I then understood that this was the problem of everything.
I comforted her for a long time before sending her back out of the study. I sat down on a chair and fell into deep thought. Who could forgive that person’s sins?
She had cried to God. Or maybe she had cried towards her entire life. However, as I am not a God, it was not her entire life even more. No matter who it was. What can anyone do for her? Who can declare the innocence of a human?
The place outside of the door was still dreary with the sound of fighting.
— Last time as well, because we had done everything the way you wanted······.
— No, it’s because you were so needlessly persistent······.
— Please, if you’re going to fight, then do it outside······.
I picked up the book that I was reading earlier.
The words were not registering in my eyes. Only sound. As it was the sound of fighting that had started before I was born and will be the sound of fighting that will continue even after my father’s death, this continued to echo in my head.
Even the cry that had been burying itself into my clothes a second ago was mixed in over there. The sound of crying and the sound of voices feasted upon each other and disgorged one another. I felt dizzy. There were only a few words that reached my ear and could be heard distinctly.
That was it.
The musical melody of Beethoven, which I had turned on, was flowing through the study. ‘From darkness to light’, this was supposedly a quote from Beethoven. I did not know how many gaps I had to cross, nor did I know how many the gaps had to be in order for my life to become a single melody.
This was what I was simply unaware of.
▯The King of Peasants, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 10
Polles, Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance
“Sinner Dantalian, listen.”
My trial was carried out in a simple fashion. It happened late in the night.
Once the afternoon sun shone down on the season where the spring rain had just ended, the world became humid. That humidity continued on even into the evening. As I was still seated inside of the prison, I received the steam that was wandering somewhere between the late spring and early summer with my bare skin.
According to the judge,
“A few days ago, you had basked in the glory of being selected as the representative to give the speech of the Crescent Alliance to announce the start of war. You, however, had dared to nominate the lowly blood of a human and, as a result, you had disgraced your blood allies. Although you are the representative of all of demonkind, since the one you had chosen to act in your place was a human, at the very least, you have thrown away your obligations, and at most, you have sullied the customs of demonkind. Your sin is tremendous.”
is what I had done.
I don’t know if my sin is tremendous or not, but the only thought that was going through my head was that the camp was tremendously noisy even during the night. The purge was currently in a present progressive form. Although the Demon Lords who were revealed as traitors were all beheaded, there were still soldiers who were loyal to those decapitated heads, so a slaughter of the highest acclaim was occurring at the bottom of the hill.
Farnese was still performing there. The performance that had started late in the evening did not stop even when a quarter of a day had passed. It happened late in the night. In the center of where soldiers were killing soldiers and soldiers were being killed by soldiers, Farnese’s fingers flew across the piano keys as she relied on the torches that were lighting various areas of the camp.
The witches were convoying my trial from a distance and muttering to each other.
“Seriously, if she’s going to keep that up, then how long does Miss General intend to perform—?”
“I don’t know. A lot of stuff must have piled up in her mind as she lived her life. If she can release her large amount of stress by doing that, then it’d be a relief.”
“Do you think I asked that question because I didn’t knooow that? I asked that because her song is shady. From a good perspective, it’s a song overflowing with madness, and from a bad perspective, it’s just a crazy song. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that our general is a slightly crazy bitch.”
“You’re hearing it like that because your knowledge of art is exceedingly lacking. Even if the things you’re lacking in isn’t just one or two things, among those things, you’re overwhelmingly lacking in your knowledge of art. Similar to how only humans appear in the eyes of humans, only crazy bitches appear in the eyes of crazy bitches, so the phenomenon where General Farnese appears like a crazy bitch to you just proves the fact that you’re a crazy bitch. Wow. I was really fucking logical just now.”
“Aha. Do you want to be fucking logically beat up?”
“If you want to prove me wrong, then try composing a decent song yourself.”
“Aaall right. I’ll start composing right away. You provoked me. For starters, once you play my song, then thooose corpses that died over there will spring up and start dancing, and even Master Dantalian’s penis will stand up and dance fancifully. Just you wait······.”
I wonder if it’s because the witches were rattling on endlessly. The judge’s expression changed into a frown. Similarly, the demon soldiers the judge had brought also had quite the bad complexion. The witches were no different to outcasts. It must be unpleasant. Although it should be my role as their master to stop them, who cares? I left them alone.
Because the girl who came here as the judge was a bit annoying.
In the end, the judge stopped reading out my sentencing and let out a sigh.
“······Heey. It’d be nice if you listened to me a bit seriously. This isn’t someone else’s sentencing but yours, Skinnybones. No matter how much this may be just for the sake of formality, goofing off so blatantly like that is going too far, isn’t it?”
The judge was none other than Demon Lord Sitri.
Paimon’s close aide, the girl who had at one point tried to poison me to death was reading my crime to me. Sitri’s expression would become vague when she rebuked me for my wrongdoing, but it felt like that was because she herself knew that she had nothing to be ashamed about. If that weren’t the case? Then she’s a fucking bastard.
The problem was the issue regarding whether Sitri was a fucking bastard or a fucking bitch.
“I have no idea what you may be talking about, Your Honor. I am already focused. In truth, I am so focused that it almost feels as if I cannot be any more focused than this. I am so concentrated that if I were to be any more concentrated than this, then, on the contrary, I would no longer be able to concentrate.”
“Yeah, so that’s why you’re fervently staring at my crotch even now?”
“It is a territory that deserves to be academically researched.”
“You mean a territory that deserves to be pervertedly indulged in, you pervert.”
Rank 12th, Demon Lord Sitri was a hermaphrodite. This meant that she possessed both a pΟnis and vΟgina at the same time, but a king can’t possibly utter such vulgar words like simultaneous possessor of a pΟnis and a vΟgina, so I am making do by elegantly referring to her as a hermaphrodite. I am a gentleman who knows courtesy after all.
“How is it like, Your Highness Sitri? Is there a difference between the pleasure you bask in when using your male genitalia and the bliss you experience when using your female genitalia? Although I have heard many times before that the pleasure which the female genitalia experience is much greater than its male counterpart, there is not much to that statement if I am not provided proof. There is a possibility that the type of sexual pleasure itself is different. Since the sensation of being rammed and doing the ramming are completely different, the very act of ruthlessly lumping those two together and calling it sexual pleasure may possibly be mistaken. If that is the case, then it would be an issue of preference. Your Highness Sitri. Your Respectable Honor. It may be presumptuous of me to ask, but between being rammed and doing the ramming, which act is more to your taste, Your Honor?”
“Yup, you pervert. You’re already perverted and not only are you perverted to the point that it feels as if you cannot be any more perverted than this, you’re so perverted that if you somehow do become more perverted than this, then at that point, you’d have already stopped being a pervert and have become something else.”
This was a ridiculous slander. Honestly speaking, I was slightly shocked. Even if this woman⎯⎯⎯this man⎯⎯⎯no, this woman, no this man, in short, this person who could either be a fucking bitch or a fucking bastard, this Demon Lord who I have yet to determine if they’re a fucking bastard or a fucking bitch so, in short, I’ll refer to them as Schrodinger’s fuck⎯⎯⎯even if she was simply reading straight from the untampered manuscript which was written by both Barbatos and Paimon, if you consider her statement just now, it was dubious as to whether she was actually maintaining neutrality as the judge or not. To be honest, it was also doubtful as to whether there were enough brain cells stored inside that skull or not. However, this might be a bit of a rude suspicion to have. Whenever I find myself in a situation where it is difficult to tell whether the opposition in front of me has brain cells or not, I was on the side of believing that they did. I am still a gentleman who knows courtesy after all······.
“That is certainly true. Our Master Dantalian is indeed a perverted pervert.”
“Yup. Our master and the word pervert are so closely connected to one another, that it’s quite difficult to claim that he isn’t a pervert. Not only is it incredibly difficult to do, but if you deny the fact that our master is a pervert, then it’d feel like you’re denying our master’s very being. In other words, this means that Master Dantalian’s very essence is perverted. Ah. I was really fucking logical just now.”
“How strange. It seems logic has changed without my knowledge.”
“By the way, what are you scribbling on that parchment? How dare you do something else even though we’re discussing the fact that our master is a pervert.”
“I’m writing a song. What’s so new about the fact that Master Dantalian is a pervert that you girls need to babble about it? If anything, you all might as well babble about the fact that the sun will also rise in the morning tomorrow and also set at night tomorrow since that will at least bestow upon all of your lacking sense of culture a smidgeon of new knowledge. More importantly, in order to prove my knowledge of art, I’m in the middle of composing an amazing song, a song that humanity has never heard of thus far and never will in the future.”
“I wonder about that. From what I can tell, I feel like your statement just now is actually the bullshit that humanity has never heard of thus far and never will in the future······.”
“Now that I think about it, I heard a rumor that Master Dantalian slept with General Farnese.”
“What was that?”
“What did you say?”
“What do re mi did you say?”
“Beautiful. A magnificent chorus. Good. If we add our ensemble to the general’s performance, then it’ll make it even better. It’s only right for crazy bitches to sing for a song played by a crazy bitch. Sing, you bitches. Dance, you bitches. Let us hold our own Walpurgis Night by ourselves.”
“What did you say la ti fa mi re dooo—?”
“Damn it, that’s a bit too much. You went too far. The chorus ended up coming to a halt as soon as it had begun because of some psychotic bitch. This is why singing with crazy bitches is quite the difficult task. They’re quite the crazy bitches after all.”
“Wait a second. If that rumor is true, then why doesn’t Master even look our way even though he’s slept with the general? Though I shouldn’t be the one to talk, from our and the general’s appearances, our ages don’t look that far apart, right? To be honest, we’re pretty much the same. We’re similarly young. Why am I hearing this rumor about our master sleeping with General Farnese for the first time?”
“That can be answered with a very simple response. Because it’s a rumor that I made up just now.”
“This fucking bitch?”
“So what were we talking about?”
“We were talking about Master Dantalian being a pervert.”
“We were talking about how Master Dantalian slept with the general just now.”
“Dear Lord. Is that true? Really, Master. You can’t live like such a pervert. A person should live with some courtesy.”
And my witches were fellows who had shoved something like courtesy into a food waste disposal bin. These damned girls.
“These sluts who wouldn’t even be satisfying to chew to death⎯⎯⎯.”
It was at the instant that the commander whom Sitri had brought pulled out his sword.
The witches who were chatting and cackling among themselves raised their staffs and aimed them at the throats of the soldiers. It was night. Shadows that were clearly not cast by the night wrapped around the necks of the soldiers like octopus tentacles. They wickedly flicked around as if they could lick the necks of the soldiers and deprive them of their lives at any moment.
The commander gulped. In the distance, although the slaughter under the pretext of purging was still noisy and the song that Farnese was performing was also prominent, this place, because this hill where my prison cell was located was like the eye of the storm placed at the very center of all the clamor, the sound of someone gulping was bleak.
The witches tilted their heads. The angle and speed with which the witches had tilted their heads were identical. While obliquely tilting their heads at the same speed and angle, the witches smiled gaily.
“Is it your first time seeing crazy bitches?”
“Mm. Sir. You. Mister. I don’t think this is our first meeting. I remember seeing your face somewhere. Where was it? Ahahah. Where did I witness this punk’s faaace?”
Aha, the witch then uttered.
“Yotvingian Plains. The assembly area of the Crescent Alliaaance.”
“That’s right. That’s when I saw you. That’s when you showed your face, while moving those trivial eyes. While wagging that dirty mouth. Yup. I saw you then. What did you prattle on about at that tiiime? My dear comrades, my beloved ladies. Do you remember—?”
“I remember well.”
“His Highness Dantalian was leading the troops and passing through the humble encampment, but they obstructed our path. They threw snowballs at us. It was piles of snow that were smeared in mud. We had no other choice but to protect His Highness with our lowly bodies. We didn’t even hope that someone would wipe our bodies, but His Highness personally wiped our clothes clean.”
The witches giggled in a low tone. Their laughter easily seeped into the low air of the night sky. The laughter flowing from the witches was uniquely light. I believed that that was the case because they had thrown away their lives somewhere. As their proof for having thrown it away somewhere, the witches cackled as they pulled up something that had happened a fair while ago.
— For Your Honor’s mistress to be an outcast, general to be a human, and royal bodyguards to be witches, Your Honor’s good faith impales the sky. Indeed, it’s befitting of the King of Peasants.
— You must be very fortunate to be so popular with women, Your Honor! Please teach the people how to bed lowly harlots and spread the information throughout the world.
— Does Your Honor plan to cut us lowly subjects down? That’s fine. Since Your Honor had stabbed the throat of His Highness Andromalius in order to save the life of a succubus whore, then killing dozens or hundreds of us lowly subjects for the sake of those witches should also be possible, right?
— Please step over our corpses with Your Honor’s grace.
Although it was something that had happened a fairly long time ago, the witches remembered it well as it was not something that had occurred quite a long time ago.
Each witch took a role and they recited to each other the lines which the soldiers had uttered on that day. As they continued to recite the lines, the shadows that were digging into the necks of the soldiers dug in further. The sound of gulping resonated here and there.
“These fellows took out their swords first so how should they be tortured?”
“How unsightly. But how can they be used if they are killed just because they are unsightly?”
“Then what should be done?”
“Kill only one.”
It happened late in the night.
The front of the spring rain had battered the Habsburg Empire and it wasn’t until three or four days ago that the rain had departed a bit towards the south. The rain clouds had sprayed an abundant supply of water on the ground, allusively proving its legacy. On the horizon of the Bruno Plains, only the puddles of water heading south were infinite. When the numerous torches spread throughout the encampment shines on those surfaces of water, it becomes beautiful as the puddles become radiant.
At the bottom of the hill, in that nirvana that was half-water and half-dirt, unknown soldiers were shouting fiercely. Although I could not see the soldiers, the torches displayed their shadows and those shadows shouted with their black maws.
— Kill the traitors!
The legs of the shadows were buried up to their calves in each pool of muddy water. Within the vicinity of their buried calves, as one might suspect, the mouth of some unknown corpse was submerged. The mouths could not possibly drink all of the muddy water. Be that as it may, they could not disgorge the water either.
They were merely submerged underneath the surface of the water.
They merely sank as if they were in a swamp.
Muddy water entered the opened mouths of the corpses and the surface levels of the pools shrunk according to the extent of those mouths. It felt as if that was the corpses’ way of digging their own graves. It was a gravesite all around.
In the center of the land that was filled with graves in every direction, Farnese continued to perform her song. The night sky overshadowed the world, making it seem as if everything was wrapped in black vinyl. On that surface, Farnese’s performance became gloss and simmered. In each spot that the starlight shone down upon, the girl’s performance crawled up like a snake’s tongue and licked the lower parts of the starlight.
Thus, as the spewed up clamorous cries from the shadows formed a low key and Farnese’s escalating sound formed a major key, the already dead corpses occasionally sunk down to the bottom as silence, resulting in music resonating throughout the land that was filled with graves.
— Kill them!
The shadows shouted. Or perhaps, their mouths did.
Farnese performed. Or perhaps, her fingers did.
— Slaughter them······.
Perhaps the eyes being black with rage would be preferable. While the corpses were stepped on along with the mud and the mud rotted away along with the corpses, eyes that were useless no matter what they looked at, maws that could not be quenched no matter what they drank, and fingers that did not particularly matter regardless of what they pointed at. As they pointed at those unpardonable traitors.
The sound itself was shouting.
As a result of using Farnese as my proxy to spread poison throughout the world, they were shouting while gaping their mouths wide open and the corpses passed away with their maws stuck in the ground. As the torches illuminated brightly due to that sound, clamor, and silence⎯⎯⎯when they become a single shadow and swell⎯⎯⎯ah, at that time, my life knew nearly no bounds.
All of that was the state of enlightenment which I had brought about during the single week I was in prison.
Victory was nice.
Furthermore, it was occasionally beautiful.
After breaking the long silence, Sitri spoke.
“was a subordinate I cherished quite a bit.”
“Is that so? This is unfortunate.”
I turned my head with difficulty after staring at that nirvana for a while. Turning my head was quite the strenuous task. If I had gazed at it any longer, then I might have completely forgotten the fact that I was still imprisoned.
“They had died because they ended up serving a bad lord after all.”
The thing which I gazed at instead of the nirvana was a Demon Lord’s feverless face.
Sitri, the Demon Lord of the Mountain Faction who was much superior to me in terms of position as she was ranked 12th, was staring blankly at me. Her eyes were telling me that she wished for nothing more than to be able to twist the neck of the cocky male who was sitting before her. She was so fearsome that I almost involuntarily apologized to her. I am serious. If she had glared at me a bit more seriously, then I might have even forgotten the fact that she had once tried to poison me to death.
······It is always another person’s rage that drags someone who is trying to slightly prolong their stay in nirvana back to reality.
I slowly opened my mouth.
“I am aware as to why Your Honor of all people has come here after having been assigned the duty as a judge. Yes, I know. Her Excellency Barbatos and Her Highness Paimon are most likely currently at their busiest. The two of them most likely wish for me to be trialed in a way where I had not been confined for even a single day.”
“My imprisonment is evidence of their dispute. As long as the Plains Faction and the Mountain Faction are now allied, there is a need for the vestiges of my imprisonment to quickly be erased. The current Crescent Alliance is in quite the precarious situation after all······. No, shall I be a bit more honest?”
I chuckled slightly.
“This is not the only time it has been like this, the Crescent Alliance has always been in the state of being on the edge. Instead of being sacred, the Crescent Alliance has been barbaric, and instead of being blood allies through the meaning of shedding blood and tears while fighting together in order to face a common enemy, it is blood allies through the meaning of making your own allies shed some blood.”
“Am I being too crude? Have I gone too far? I apologize. Nevertheless, Your Excellency Sitri, it is already a Crescent Alliance where 7 traitors were brought to light. From the start, half of the Demon Lords did not even participate in the Crescent Alliance. They have positioned themselves way back in the rear and the sole thing they are praying for is our failure. This one is asking this out of pure curiosity, but is now the right time to be heavily discussing sanctity and celestialness?”
The Demon Lord Allied Forces as of late have become weaker than ever. Demon Lord Belial died after having his face peeled off by Elizabeth, the Imperial Princess. Several Demon Lords whom I have never met before have either died in battle or were chased out of their castles. Adding to that, although there being traitors was a given, it turned out to be 7 Demon Lords.
The sacrifice was immense. The human alliance before us was in good condition. The area behind our backs was swarming with traitors, no, traitors to our kind. On that list of traitors to our kind, there was even the Rank 1st Demon Lord, Baal. Special countermeasures were necessary.
“We must group together more firmly than ever before. Until we have tortured the swines that are living idly in the backline, the plains and the mountain ranges are a single world. We must make haste and withdraw to the inner parts of the mountains, but there is no operation more difficult than withdrawing while already being torn to tatters. Even if the two parties have wronged each other, they must forgive one another. Only then can trust finally be established.”
“So? What are you trying to tell me?”
“It is simple, Your Highness.”
“If you had made an attempt at a whimsical ally’s life by poisoning them, then what I am trying to say is that you must start off by lowering your head and giving an apology. How could you be discussing this one’s sins with such a brazen look on your royal countenance?”
Sitri shut her mouth.
A long period of time passed before she opened her smooth lips.
“To you, Skinnybones?”
“I’m the Demon Lord of the 12th rank and second-in-command of the Mountain Faction. I have exclusive possession of Big Sis Paimon’s affection.”
“I am aware.”
I know that you are fanatical about Paimon.
“You’re nothing more than rank 71st, and not only have you made a half-breed your fiancée, but you made a human your acting general. If I were to punish you the usual way, then you would have died twice over. You want me to apologize despite that?”
“Apologize despite that.”
“Similar to the time in the past when Her Highness Paimon wept as she apologized in the council chamber of Niflheim despite being the head of the greatest faction in the demon continent.”
“Or is Your Excellency’s head heavier than Her Highness Paimon’s?”
The silence continued.
Blood flowed on the ground where the torch was illuminating. The neck of the beheaded corpse was completely gone as if it had simply been deleted, making it appear as if it were never there to begin with. As the blood flowed and soaked Sitri’s feet, it went by the way of her toes and flowed between the bars before pushing its way to where I was seated and pooled underneath me. I was asking her if she was prepared to stand in the same pool of blood as me.
“You look quite smart so you should know already by now. I don’t particularly think what I did to you was bad. I don’t feel sorry either.”
“I am aware.”
“The Mountain Faction and the Plains Faction will most likely have to start cooperating from now on. At that time, you’ll become quite important. You’re Barbatos’ sex friend and someone Big Sis Paimon reveres after all. Regardless, my instincts are telling me something. Skinnybones, you, no matter where or how I look at you, you’re nothing more than a slaughterer who’s simply mad for authority. It’s to the point that I don’t want to know why Big Sis Paimon regards you highly.”
My word. A slaughterer?
I laughed. I did so louder than earlier. It wasn’t just me. The witches around me had started to giggle as well. Although we all had different throats, the laughter that came out from them easily mixed together. When the laughter blended together, the shadows shone by the torches also danced promiscuously. Sitri was vacantly staring at the sight of us having intercourse with our voices and shadows.
“This is, well. Ehem. That is quite. Dear me. It is rather difficult to assure you that I am not that sort of personage. O Your Respectable Honor. I had heard from the rumors that you are an individual who is interested in nothing but martial arts, but it appears you have outstanding observation skills as well.”
“Yup. I know a lot of the things that you don’t know.”
“Even if I apologize to you, I can’t do it sincerely. No, I won’t apologize sincerely. Ever. Do you want to receive my apology despite that?”
“Pardon? I apologize, but I have absolutely no interest in Your Excellency’s sincerity. Did Your Excellency perhaps think that if you apologized sincerely that I would sincerely forgive you? Oh dear.”
The witches laughed.
“Your Excellency. Please think about it cordially. If Your Highness sincerely apologizes to this one, then would this one not have to also sincerely forgive Your Highness? How troublesome is that? I am already suffering due to the threats on my life, but do I now have to even pretend to be sincere? If we warmly apologize and forgive one another, then would the world become beautiful? That beautiful world would be for Your Highness, but would it be for me?”
“That is not the type of apology which I am requesting. I am ashamed to say this, but I do not have even the slightest intention to sincerely forgive Your Highness. Whether there is sincerity in the apology or not, that does not change the fact that Your Highness had made an attempt at my life.”
“Get on your knees.”
“Lower your head.”
“Utter the words of apology. Endure the ridicule and bear with the indignity. Accept defeat as defeat. Promise me that Your Highness will no longer attack me for a preposterous reason ever again.”
Apologize, endure, bear, accept, and promise.
“And in return.”
“Despite being aware of the fact that Your Highness is not being sincere, I will forgive Your Highness.”
I will forgive you.
You who had casually tried to kill me.
“I shall believe Your Highness’ promise. Of course, my wariness will not disappear, but why would that matter? Promises are bound to last long if they are bound together with sound suspicion rather than groundless trust.”
Traditionally, this much must be done in order for one to utter ‘Ah, I did well winning’ and beautifully bask in the victory.
How humiliating it is when you have to apologize no matter what even though you do not mean it.
Furthermore, how delightful it is to watch the humiliation of a failure.
As that is what apologies essentially are, it had to be like that. It was only appropriate for the one who is being forgiven to be disgraced and the one who is doing the forgiving to be jovial.
Regardless of whether they knew that or not, the witches held their sides with laughter after hearing my words.
“Yup, Master is······ Master really is, yup······.”
“Overall, he’s our master.”
“He’s crazy and crazy that he’s crazy for three generations and thirty-three generations.”
“How lovely. How adorable. How pretty. With what confidence is His Greater Being so cute? It feels like even if he licks, covets, rams, or violates, he’ll be declared innocent if he goes to trial. Yup. I was perfectly logical just now.”
“You’re a perverted bitch who’s logical.”
“I acknowledge the verdict.”
“But it can’t be helped since he’s a eunuch.”
“Yeah, since he’s a eunuch with single-minded devotion to his attendant, Miss Lazuli.”
“Damn it, I can’t win with shiritori. They’re crazy bitches after all.”
(TL note: Shiritori is a game where you say a word that begins with the final letter in the word that was said previously. So here it was 완서어어어엉->엉덩이->이년이)
“In any case, that was a surprise.”
“What have you been scribbling on that parchment since earlier? Do you even know how important the conversation we’re having right now is? For you to be doing something else even though we’re discussing something this important, I can’t believe it.”
“I was composing a song? I had just now finished writing a masterpiece of the century? I had finished my preparation of making everyone piss themseeelves? Is there a problem? In any case, how important of a conversation was it that you’re acting like that?”
“I don’t know. What were we in the middle of talking about?”
“We were talking about our master being insane.”
“We were talking about our master being a eunuch.”
“Haa? What’s so new about the fact that our master is insane and also a eunuch that you girls are not only babbling about it as if it were important, but also as if it were a situation that could be corrected or changed? More importantly, everyone, I have finally finished the masterpiece that will prove my knowledge of art. Ahaha. If you listen to this and aren’t moved, then not only does that mean you are all lacking in culture, but it may also possibly prove that you all lack a brain. In that regard, you all must naturally listen to my song and be moved. Since no one has ever proved the existence of your brains until now, today, on this day, I shall prove the fact that a brain does indeed exist in your skulls⎯⎯⎯.”
Once that was said, the witches went quiet.
It wasn’t a witch who had said no. It was Sitri.
Sitri stared straight at me and said it again.
“As I thought, I can’t apologize to you. I can’t. Before quibbling over whether I can or not, yup, I don’t want to. I don’t want to apologize and I don’t want to express my remorse. Why should I?”
Sitri tilted her head slightly and smiled. Her grinning face looked so pure that it felt as if she were innocent since birth.
“Really, why should I? Accept defeat as defeat? Heeh. Skinnybones, you were only locked up for about a week, but have you already gone insane? I have never lost to you, Skinnybones.”
“Yeah. I tried to assassinate you. Big Sis Paimon has an unusual interest in you for some reason. But it’s because of that very reason that I had tried to kill you. Me, big sis’ close aide. In any case, even if she has some interest in you⎯⎯⎯.”
Sitri tilted her head a bit more.
“In the end, the one who is precious to big sis isn’t you but me. If the moment where big sis has to choose either you or me arrives, then she’ll choose me, not you.”
She was not a bastard who lived without thinking nor was she a bitch who lived without thinking.
“Ah, you over there.”
Before the short exchange could even fully happen, Sitri swung her blade and slashed one of the witches’ shoulders. Blood erupted. A cry erupted.
The blade part of Sitri’s weapon shrank down all on its own. It was a blade that could freely contract and extend. In my life before this, before I was brought to this world, I had seen that blade through my computer monitor.
The Connecting Blade. Rank 12th, Demon Lord Sitri’s favorite sword.
Sitri beamed at the witch.
“Hehe. You shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t record this. What? Did you plan to record everything and hand the recording over to Big Sis Paimon, like you did before?”
Sitri approached the collapsed witch. The witch was flailing about on the ground and continuously groaning in pain. Sitri put her hand inside the witch’s clothes, and shortly after, she pulled out an artifact that resembled a pocket watch.
“Uh, huuk······! Kuh, eh······, ······uu, huuh······.”
“Reeaally, for you to use something like memoria magic without permission. You can’t do that. Dantalian, your witches have really bad habits. Is it perhaps because they weren’t educated properly when they were young?”
A blue flame burned. It happened within Sitri’s palm. Once the pocket watch was engulfed in the flame, it burned easily. Without even leaving behind a metallic stain, the artifact had crumbled into small particles of ash and floated into the night sky.
“I won’t kill her. It seems my subordinates were rude during a previous occasion after all. Okay. Can we call it even by saying that, by not having killed this witch just now, I had apologized for what I had done previously?”
Is declaring war against me.
“Are you truly sorry?”
The torches shined and revealed half of Sitri’s body. Once the torches became shrouded, half of Sitri’s body was buried in darkness. I am uncertain as to whether she was like that since birth or not, the color of Sitri’s hair half resembled fire and half resembled water. Her eyes were also captured half in light and half in darkness. My current appearance is most likely reflecting like that to Sitri as well. I assumed that.
— It will not be easy.
I looked back at the conversation that I once had with Lapis in the past. It was back during the time when I thought that I would have to assassinate Paimon if need be. On that night where we had held a ballot on the Crescent Alliance expedition and led it to its approval, Lapis called Paimon ‘that person’ and warned me.
— Sitri is always by that person’s side.
— The Rank 12th Demon Lord. If one were to rank them by personal strength, then Rank 2nd Agares is at the highest, Rank 8th Barbatos is second, and after that is Sitri at third. Since she follows that person like an elder sister and does not leave their side for even a moment, it will be difficult for an assassin to get through.
Is that so.
Is she a rabid dog that is always beaming like an idiot but bares her teeth solely for Paimon?
My instincts were noisily raising an alarm in my head. I thought while putting away the alarm. ······As the head of the Mountain Faction, Paimon led the greatest faction in the demon continent for no less than 400 years. She raised the demon continent on the outside, while, in the background, she secretly established the Republic of Batavia at some out-of-the-way shoreline on the continent ruled by the humans. People have to use their own brain a fair amount even when just trying to maintain two households, but how extremely difficult must it be for a monarch to manage two nations? I am speaking from the heart, but while Demon Lord Paimon’s popularity was virtuous, she had somewhat insufficient resources.
······A different person filled that lack of resources and assisted her. Paimon did not inform me that she had some other chancellor like that. The fact that she did not tell me despite it being something that did not need to be hidden, meant that even Paimon did not know she had a chancellor like that.
I carefully examined the woman before me.
It was this bastard.
It was this person, this person whom I didn’t know whether to call them this bastard or this bitch, that was secretly assisting Paimon.
Similar to how I indulged in disguising myself as a crazed debauchee by making Lapis my lover and pretended to be the world’s stupidest man by making Farnese my acting general.
This fellow, Demon Lord Sitri, voluntarily became a hermaphrodite and habitually committed all sorts of perverted eccentricities.
In order to plant a prejudice against herself into the people whom she meets and make them disregard her.
“Ehehe. Don’t glare at me like that so much, Skinnybones. I said I was sorry, all right? I apologized saying that I was sorry. Honestly, you plotted together with Barbatos and started this war, right? You did all sorts of terrible things! A lot of it!”
The Mountain Faction’s shade.
If Paimon was simply a woman who was trying to spread out the sunlight, then this rabid dog in front of me was a girl who only acted in the shade.
“At the lowest, the number of soldiers who had died because of you is in the thousands. Wow, just saying thousands is really······ on the other hand, I just simply tried to poison you alone. And yet, I’m saying sorry to you right now. I feel really conscientious. You’ll forgive me, right?”
“······I shall forgive you.”
“Yup, good. We’ve reconciled now, all right?”
“Good. You forgave and I was forgiven. One person was hurt and one person was killed. Although it feels slightly unfavorable for me, well, since Skinnybones is the rather inexperienced protege, I have no other choice but to overlook it as your senior. Hehe. Then let’s continue the trial.”
Sitri took out the piece of parchment that had my sentencing written on it. While she was clearing her throat and getting ready to read, the witches were patching up their injured comrade. Sitri soon began to speak.
“Sinner Dantalian, listen.”
“A few days ago, you had basked in the glory of being selected as the representative to give the speech of the Crescent Alliance to announce the start of war······ ah, I’m going to read from the beginning, okay? What am I supposed to do when I forgot where I had left off because some cheeky bitches interrupted me? That’s okay, right, Skinnyhead whom some cheeky bitches call master?”
I vow. I shall make you kneel down to me.
“Okay. ······You, however, had dared to nominate the lowly blood of a human and, as a result, you had disgraced your blood allies. Although you are the representative of all of demonkind, since the one you had chosen to act in your place was a human, at the very least, you have thrown away your obligations, and at most, you have sullied the customs of demonkind. Your sin is tremendous.”
I shall make you bow.
“Sinner Dantalian, heed my words once more. The court has closely inspected your past, therefore, it has become clear that you had only committed your crime due to your own foolishness and not because you had borne any ill will towards the Crescent Alliance. Although you may have made a dirty member of humankind into your acting general, the person in question has massacred a countless number of her own kind.”
I shall make you apologize.
“The way of the world asks you whose blood has been passed down to you. However, the customs of the battlefield ask you who you had shed your blood for. Thus, even if the blood one was born with is different in the Crescent Alliance, we are blood allies because that blood flows towards the same place. As your humble-blooded subordinate, after having inherited the blood of that lowly race, has served us by adding another vein to our blood allies, is that not also praiseworthy?”
You will have to endure indignity.
“The people of the past once said that dispensing justice and achieving victory cannot be one and the same. However, the council has judged that this is a battlefield. How could one possibly differentiate justice and victory as separate entities in a battlefield? Achieving victory in a war is always as valuable as justice. That is the custom of the battlefield. It would only be appropriate if the broadness of the nature of your crime is counterbalanced by the steepness of your meritorious service in war. That too is the law of the battlefield.”
You will also have to bear with the humiliation.
“When one must first consider the urgency of the battlefield before the way of the world, that is called mercy. If one must rely on mercy while granting amnesty to a sinner, that is solely done in the hopes that the criminal possesses loyalty. Even if your sins are pardoned, from this point forth, you must be cautious as to not disgrace this mercy and betray our faith.”
You will be unable to endure before you are able to endure at last, and you will have to cope with something that cannot be coped with.
“You must continue to achieve victory and be the one to prove righteousness. You must bear in mind the reason why we are granting you mercy and why we have boundless faith in you.”
Because you will fail irreparably.
“As the defendant has committed their crime in the battlefield, they deserve to be judged according to the customs of the battlefield. Dantalian, as the commanders leading the Crescent Alliance, we, Barbatos of Immortality and Paimon of Benevolence, have hereby made their verdict and it shall be conveyed to you through this Sitri of Devotion.”
Look forward to it, Sitri. I promise you.
“⎯⎯⎯You are declared not guilty.”
I shall teach you what an apology is.
Sitri opened the iron door of the prison with a key. The witches approached and wiped my body with the towels they had prepared beforehand. Every nook and cranny. As the girls clothed me in my garments, I stayed silent as they cleaned and clothed me like that. Once I was fully in my attire, I put the straw which I had lived together with for the past week behind me and stepped forward.
It was night.
Because the spring rain had left after having disposed of a lot of water, the world was glimmering with moisture during the night. As what was connecting this side with that side was first darkness and moisture second, it was the torches trembling due to the moisture that came third. Breathing lives and dead lives were emitting steam in the area beyond the shaking torchlight, and Farnese was performing above everything as if she were dancing. On this night where the season solely spread a foul stench, I was discharged.
“Congrats on being discharged.”
“Your grace is immeasurable.”
“Yup. You should know that it’s immeasurable. You go overboard because you don’t know your limit, so if you want to suppress that, you have to be aware of the fact that there is a boundless net spread out above your head. Don’t try to tear it. It won’t tear. It’s a net that has been casted over the history of the Crescent Alliance for 500 years. Don’t raise your head too much. You’ll get caught if you do.”
Sitri was pleasantly talking in an affectionate tone. She was smiling in a way that wasn’t excessive or lacking. Similar to how a farmer has no need to swing their plow excessively while cultivating, or how a fisherman has no need to use less strength while gathering, Sitri was not excessive or lacking when pressing her foot down on the thing that was trying to oppose her. It felt as if to Sitri, this was as natural as farmwork was for a farmer.
“Yes, Your Excellency. I will bear that in mind.”
It was at that moment. Sitri reached her hand out and pulled me by my necktie. While forcefully raising my head which I had meekly lowered, Sitri brought her face close to my own. Right in front of my nose. It was a friable distance where I could feel the opposition’s breath around the rim of my eyes.
Sitri quietly whispered in the general area of my eyes.
“⎯⎯⎯If you act up again, then I’ll make you bite the dust without a single trace, all right, Skinnybones?”
And I, believed that I could vividly see the halves of flames burning in her pupils.
▯King’s Beloved Slave, Berbere Witch Sisters, Captain of the Royal Guard, Humbaba
Empire Calendar: Year 1506, Month 4, Day 10
Polles, Bruno Plains, Army of the Crescent Alliance
Sheesh, hey. Sheesh. I thought I was going to kick the bucket.
As I thought, the aura of high-ranking Demon Lords is something else. Seriously, their aura.
Despite my looks, you know? As I lived my life, you know? I’m a girl who’s experienced every fucking thing that can be described as fucked and what happened just a second ago was really fucked. I believed that the O Goddess of All had personally created this single enunciation and presented it to us lowly people exactly for situations like this.
Master Dantalian was still deep in thought. Even though a fair amount of time had already passed since Sitri had left and it was nearing midnight. If our master goes quiet then we also have to be quiet.
Lord and vassal of one mind. As his loyal subjects, we can’t possibly dare to interrupt our master’s thinking.
“How difficult. It is abstruse. We must withdraw to the demon continent as soon as possible, but when there is someone among our allies who is still trying to interfere······.”
That was the only thing our master had muttered, and, without saying anything else, he continued to think in silence. He was definitely plotting an immensely profound scheme that the likes of us couldn’t possibly imagine since the contents of our brains were lacking. Yup. I know. I am well aware.
The problem iiisss, this is damn boooring.
A dark night.
Only the torches which the guards had set up and abandoned were leisurely burning to nothing. Tic, tic, the sound of sparks flying······.
I could see the lips of my dear fellow witches twitching and wriggling, making it obvious that they wanted to utter nonsense, overflow with bullshit, and make the world vastly tremble both high and low. Aah, fatigue is a scaaary thing. It has a side that is more terrifying than torture. Torture and fatigue even have sides that are parallel to some extent.
The fact they have no end.
The fact they have no bounds.
Ah, truly, the fact that they have no end or bounds.
It’s okay. I’m, confident in enduring torture. That’s why I’m so good at even playing with boredom.
I reminisce the past whenever this happens. Me, you know, despite how I look, you know, I’ve experienced a lot of fucked up things as I lived. Since there is no end or bounds when it comes to fuckery, it’s the perfect thing to dwell on when bored.
If there’s only mud no matter where you place your foot and if there’s only muddy water no matter where you shove your mouth, then that means that people have no other choice but to live after having thrown away a certain amount of their lives somewhere······there was a senior witch who had once said this while smiling sweetly.
That senior had said that and was burned to death in a plaza.
If we’re lowly beings no matter where we go and if we’re lowly beings no matter where we head, then let’s just become the lowest of beasts and gather all of the gold in the world······there was a witch who was the same age as me that had said this while cackling.
That witch had said that and died after having all of her limbs torn off in a marke