“Shion! I don’t see any booze!”
“Obviously not. Today’s objective are negotiations.”
“Ain’t it common sense to put out booze on such occasions!?”
“I’ve never heard of such common sense! And even if such a custom existed, you wouldn’t drink the alcohol before the negotiations, would you?”
“Tsk…don’t be so stuffy, man.”
The dumb Takaharu goes wild.
“I think, like, isn’t this place way too tasteless for a picnic?”
“Our goal here isn’t a picnic!”
“For now, let’s sing?”
“Why would you sing now…!?”
“In such a case, it might be presumptuous of me, but allow me to…”
“No, no, no, going after you, Hibi-cchi, would be like super hard mode! Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to cope with you suddenly undressing while sober!”
The dumb Sarah also goes wild, and for some reason, Hibiki tries to start undressing.
I might have made a mistake in my escort…just when I was starting to feel such a regret――
“What did you people come here for?” A red imp with small wings asks us after having appeared without any of us noticing.
“A familiar of Demon King Kaoru?”
“Indeed. I’m Kaoru-sama’s first kin ― McDull Kaoru. So, what is your objective in coming here?”
The imp ― McDull ― repeats his question towards me.
“I believe I told you right after entering the Domain, but it’s negotiations.”
“Negotiations? Are you going to tell us to surrender just like we do when starting a Reign against the humans?”
“What would you do, assuming I’d agree?”
Granted they intend to answer the demand for surrender, not only an alliance, but insubordination would be an option, too.
“The answer would be no. We’d like you to leave then.” McDull refuses politely.
“I said 『assuming』, didn’t I?”
“So what is your real intent? Kaoru-sama doesn’t hate word games, but he hates you.”
“Hihihi…he said he hates you, Shion-cchi.”
“Master…hate is also a part of liking. Even abuse can turn into pleasure at some point――”
――Shut up! From now on you’re forbidden to speak up without my permission!
“Sorry, it got a bit too noisy. Anyway, my main intent is to ask whether you want to form an alliance.”
“Didn’t you hear me? It’s an alliance.”
“I’ve heard you. I’m waiting for Kaoru-sama’s reply.”
“How cumbersome. Hey, Demon King Kaoru, how about you meet me in person so that we can talk it out since I’m here anyway?”
“You’re asking Kaoru-sama to come to such a dangerous place?”
“Dangerous place, you say…you do realize that this is Demon King Kaoru’s Domain, right?”
McDull shifts his attention to my subordinates behind me, and bares his anger, “I know all of them. They’re all monsters we regard as dangerous.”
“Is that so?”
“The main reason for us being forced into an inferior position are the monsters over there.”
“Hooh… So, what’s Demon King Kaoru’s answer?”
“…He’s saying he’s going to come here.”
“I see. I guess you’ll allow us to wait here for a while longer then.”
It took ten minutes while we were exposed to McDull’s glare which was filled with murder.
“Nice to meet you, Demon King Shion.”
“The pleasure is on my side, Demon King Kaoru.”
A silver-haired boy with red eyes ― Kaoru showed up while escorted by a huge amount of monsters.
Chapter 270 – Heading for an Alliance ⑤
“Isn’t that a rather big gallery you’ve brought with you considering that we’re going to have a discussion?” I shift my eyes to the countless monsters behind Kaoru.
“The same applies to you, don’t you think? The monsters escorting you are extremely dangerous.” In contrast, Kaoru shifts his eyes to my subordinates.
“Well, whatever. Let’s get down to the main topic. Won’t you form an alliance with me?”
“Alliance? What would that entail in specific?”
“Specifically, a non-aggression pact, first and foremost.”
“A non-aggression pact…? Now after all this time…is something I’d love to ask, but is it truly just that?”
“That’s the only condition from my side, yes.”
Kaoru looks at me full of distrust.
“That’s your only condition? Seriously?”
“Is something wrong with that?”
“It’s just…I don’t understand your real motive.”
“My real motive? I just want to avoid pointless strife and prepare myself for other threats.”
“Other threats? You mean the humans?”
“It’s impossible for us to form alliances with the humans, right?”
“Don’t you hate me?”
The curse cast on Demon Kings and mankind by the Mastermind makes the humans hate Demon Kings and the Demon Kings hate each other. I myself hate the Demon King in front of me, Kaoru, quite a bit. However, it’s a hatred I can suppress.
“I’d be lying if I said that I don’t hate you.”
“And yet you want to form an alliance with someone you hate?”
“If it’s necessary for the sake of survival.”
If it was hatred where neither side can understand the other…《Reign》 and 《Capitulation》 wouldn’t work in the first place. That means, the hatred that was planted in us is weaker than our instinct for survival.
“For the sake of survival, huh…? In that case, it makes even less sense. I could have understood it if I had been the one to offer you an alliance for the sake of survival. But, isn’t it weird for you to offer me an alliance for the sake of survival? At least that’s how I perceive our power relationship here.”
Kaoru has become a boy, but his intelligence is far higher than that of my noisy subordinates behind me.
“That’s why I told you that it’s for the sake of preparing for other threats, didn’t I? We don’t believe…that we’ll be destroyed by you.”
“I see. Is it fine for me to check one thing with you?”
“What is it?”
“Do you mean an alliance of equals?”
“I was hoping for an alliance of equals, yes.”
“Even though we’re inferior to you?”
“Even if I demanded you to become my subordinate, you’d refuse, right?”
“You’re surely not going to suggest that we should become your subordinates, are you? Therefore, the only option we have left is to form an alliance of equals, don’t you think?”
“Hmm…a non-aggression pact, was it? You don’t have any terms besides that?”
It sounds like Kaoru still can’t quite trust my words. He piles up question after question with an expression as if he’s sounding me out.
“Right now that’s the only condition I’m demanding.”
“I see…for how long?”
How long? I didn’t think about that. How long would be good? Until I take over Toyama? It’s a difficult question…
“Do you have any preferred time limit?”
“Hmm? You’re leaving the decision to me?”
“That depends on the length of the time limit.”
“Okay…let’s see…how about a probational month for starters? Afterwards….we could talk it over again to decide whether we’re going to extend it for a month, half a year, or a year. How about that?”
I analyze the time limit suggested by Kaoru.
There are two things I understood from our conversation so far. First, Kaoru is unlikely to turn down the alliance. Second, Kaoru is smarter than his appearance suggests.
“Mmh? Is something the matter? Do you have any problems with the time limit presented by me?”
“No, that’s not the issue.”
“Why are you contemplating then?”
“It’s just, how old are you?”
“Huh? How’s that related to anything?”
“No, forget it…sorry. I have no problem with the time limit.”
Because Kaoru looks just like an elementary schooler, I ended up unintentionally speaking my mind.
“In that case, to sum it up…we’re going to form an alliance between you and me. We’ll be equals with none of us being superior or inferior. The alliance entails a non-aggression pact. It’ll last for one month. After one month, we’ll talk once more to decide on the next time limit. Did I miss anything?”
“No, that’s all.”
Shit…before I noticed it, he took the initiative from me.
“Can I ask you one thing?”
“Demon King Kaoru, going by the flow of our conversation…you don’t mind me assuming that you’ll accept forming an alliance, right?”
“Yep, that’s right. As long as you can keep the conditions I mentioned just now…I think it’s alright for me to go along with your proposal ― the creation of an alliance.”
“It’s great that we’ve come t――
“Hey, hey! Wait a sec! The issue is whether you can truly keep those conditions, isn’t it?”
I don’t like how he keeps snatching the initiative, but I’ve achieved my goal…just when I felt relieved about it, Kaoru came up with a new issue.
“Certainly, unlike 《Reign》 or 《Capitulation》, the alliance this time doesn’t have the compelling force of an ability backing it. I guess we have no choice but to trust each other.”
“Can you trust me?”
“If you ask me that, I’ll lose some of my confidence, but…even if you revoked our agreement after forming an alliance for argument’s sake, your side would have more disadvantages from it, right?”
“I understand. So basically you’re saying, you’re giving this alliance a try because you have nothing to lose anyway…and if it doesn’t work out, you can simply destroy us…right?”
“To put it bluntly, that’s how it is.”
“In that case, even if you revoke it, your damage will be small, but if I revoke it, the damage will be big…how is this equal?”
“What do you want to do about it then?”
Kaoru reveals a daring smile, “You’re smart.”
“That only sounds like sarcasm out of your mouth.”
“You’ve added a new aspect to the ways of Demon Kings, which I believed to be limited to killing and stealing from each other.”
“Okay, and what’s the main issue?”
“You might form alliances with Demon Kings other than me in the future.”
“It’s a possibility, yes.”
“Accordingly, I have one proposal.”
“What is it?”
“Let’s announce this alliance between you and me to the whole world! As for the name…let’s see…how about 『Ishikawa Alliance』? It’s boring, but easy to understand, right?”
Ishikawa Alliance? Announce it to the world? …I see. I’ve grasped Kaoru’s aim.
“Going by your expression, it looks like you’ve grasped what I wanted you to understand.”
“Announcing it to the world ― in other words, if one of us betrays the other, the betrayer will be labeled as such by the world. This could become a huge disadvantage in their future activities. That’s the idea, right?”
“Correct. As I thought, you’re a smart guy. So, are you going to accept my proposal?”
I haven’t planned to backstab him in the first place. After all, it’s an alliance where I want Kaoru to act as my breakwater. If he becomes uncontrollable…it’ll be fine to simply let the alliance run out. Considering it like that, it’s convenient that we’ve added a time limit earlier.
“――I’ll go along with that proposal.”
“That’s great to you. It means we’re allied.” Kaoru holds a hand out towards me.
“Yes, we are.” I grasp his hand. “Now that we’ve concluded an alliance, would it be alright for me to make another suggestion?”
I brought up a suggestion I came up with on the spot.