On the same day, at the same time Renya blew away the remains of the black armor at the capital of the dragonoids, cries of pain echoed in a wide, empty space. That dark hall, where the sun never shone, was said to be located in the center of the sole, huge continent in this world since ancient times. A domain in the center that connected the territories of the four races. It’s the land ruled by a race with violet hair, referred to as demons. If one were to speak about buildings situated in the heart of such a land, nothing except the castle, where the demon king lives, would come to mind.
Usually the castle has no lord. But, matching the timing of the hero’s descent on the world, a king would be born from among the demons, taking the name of the demon king. That demon king would become the lord of the castle. When there was no lord, the demon king’s castle would remain deserted, but even with the passage of time, its majesty didn’t wane. Without knowing who might have built it or when, it would always throw a huge shadow across the land.
At present a lord habitated the demon king’s castle.
Many demons were hanging with ropes casually tied around their necks all over the castle where many monsters had gathered.To the trained eye it would probably be obvious that some of the hanging demons were those who were once considered influential even among the demons that had raised their names as candidates for being the next demon king. They were the ones who opposed the current demon king’s enthronement and were thus consigned to oblivion by the demon king himself.
The present demon king was recognized as such in both name and reality the moment he personally got rid of them. It isn’t rare for other demons to oppose a demon king’s enthronement. It was something like a customary event that followed the naming of a demon king whose power was all that mattered, but normally a demon king, who originated from powerful demons, would make the demons that opposed him yield without going as far as taking their lives, as it wouldn’t be good to lower the strength of the demons as a whole.
However, this generation’s demon king was different. Without forgiving the demons that opposed him, he deprived them of life, ripped them of their authority, put ropes around their necks, hung them at the walls all over his castle, and left them to rot.
Such a deed was the height of madness even by the demons’ standards. The demon king’s name turned into a synonym for calamity for them.
The person, who was breathing roughly in pain while seizing at his chest while on the throne in a hall located in the center of the demon king’s castle, was that very same demon king, Stolas Vasargo.
His clothes would have been described as a suit worn by a company employee by Renya, if he were present. He had put on a black jouge above a white shirt, and wore a mantle with a collar. His looks could be called graceful. It wasn’t that he didn’t give off a slightly cruel impression, but his slender face and the sharp eyes looked well enough that there would be no objection even if he called himself a fairly handsome man, if he were on the human continent. He wore his hair knotted in the back, and although it was violet, one of the characteristics of a demon, the violet color was pale, and tinged with a silver hue. Violet hair with a tinge of silver was a phenomenon that almost never manifested itself among demons, but it wasn’t as though it never happened. Demons, who were born while possessing that trait, generally had low abilities.
The fact that one would be labeled as incompetent for nothing but this trait alone in the Vasargo family, which was reasonably famous for having produced many influential people even among the demons, was easy to imagine for someone who knew those circumstances. Moreover, although faintly, golden hair was also mixed into his pale violet hair. This was a trait which was impossible for demons to have. Even if there were different shades of the color, demons always have violet hair. This phenomenon manifested itself a little while after he took the seat of the demon king.
Among the demons it was rumored that it might be an old phenomenon taking place after he became the demon king, but no one besides the demon king himself and another, completely different being knew the truth.
“Your Majesty! What happened!?”
The soldiers, who were on watch, gathered due to the demon king’s painful wail reverberating throughout the throne room. They were soldiers who definitely fell behind when compared to the demon king and the demon king candidates, but that was because the targets for comparison are too outlandish. In the humans’ eyes, every one of them could be called an incarnation of their nightmares.
Those soldiers assembled due to the abnormal events of the demon king, whom they themselves must protect at all cost. But, they weren’t able to take a single step into the throne room. To enter, it is necessary to have the demon king’s permission. Even if they might be his royal guards, they were prohibited to enter. Helplessly the soldiers called out while in front of the door leading into the throne throne room.
However, the demon king’s reply to the soldiers, who called out to him while worried about his safety, was filled with rage, “Don’t come! No one is allowed to get close to me! Withdraw!”
“Your Majesty! Just what happened!? What was the voice…”
“Shut up! I ordered you to withdraw, soldiers!” Stolas yelled.
“But, Your Majesty…” The tenacious soldier was likely frantic to accomplish his duty.
For the royal guards, protecting the demon king ought to be their number one priority, no matter what happens. If the king suffered some kind of harm without them noticing, it would be a disgrace to them.
However, the words of the royal guard, who was anxious about the demon king’s safety, apparently achieved nothing but worsening the demon king’s mood.
“You talk too much! Don’t you understand the order to withdraw!?” Stolas shouted angrily.
The head of the entreating soldier burst open like a watermelon that had been thrown on the ground. A shower of blood and flesh fell on his comrades standing behind him. The body of the headless soldier was vertically crushed as if a huge, invisible hammer smashed it from right above, drawing a bright red circle on the floor.
The royal guards needed some time to process what had happened in front of their eyes due to the sudden event. They finally understood what had happened only after the blood streaming out of the corpse, which had turned into a meat paste, had reached their feet all the while they were completely covered in flesh and blood. Some among them weakly crumbled down on the spot, yet others had their faces cramp up in fear, trying to leave the scene albeit only managing to take several steps back instead.
“I won’t repeat myself over and over again! If you don’t want to experience the same, then fall back, soldiers! There are plenty of substitutes for the likes of you bastards! Obey my order!” Stolas threatened.
“Y-…Yes, Your Majesty!” The soldiers, who answered him in concert, left the place with a speed as if running away.
Only the miserable, smashed corpse of the soldier was left behind, but not a single person tried to touch it. Very likely it would be left like that for a while. Sooner or later the unlucky person in charge of cleaning would be forced to get rid of it while lamenting their own bad luck and suppressing their nausea.
Glaring at the door with eyes full of hatred until the presences of the soldiers on the other side of the door had completely disappeared, the demon king exhaled very deeply, pausing for a while after everyone had disappeared.
His left hand was grasping his own chest as if tearing it off. Great amounts of cold sweat were exuded from his face, traced the contour of his chin, and fell down as drops from the tip of his chin. His right hand clasped the throne’s armrest so strongly that it wouldn’t be strange for it to break. Seemingly because the pain didn’t ebb down, his feet were trembling quite strongly.
“You were rather flashy there, weren’t you?”
Suddenly a carefree voice that completely disregarded the mood echoed in the room that should be empty except for the demon king.
The demon king, who hung his head apparently due to the pain assailing his chest, lifted his eyes with a startled expression, but there was no one in sight.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you quickly severed the connection to your puppet?”
“I don’t know the details, but…because the puppet was broken in an unusual manner, when I tried I couldn’t sever the path…” Stolas replied.
The wording was still somewhat arrogant, but the demon king’s tone contained something similar to respect towards the voice that could suddenly be heard.
Upon the demon king’s reply, laughter echoed within the space that should be empty.
“That’s truly unfortunate, isn’t it? You have to create your puppets while properly considering these things. Hasn’t it become a good lesson for you? It looks like the tuition fee was slightly costly, though.”
The demon king didn’t answer. Maybe because of the pain or his anger towards the voice, he stayed silent while twisting his face.
Without particularly minding the lack of an answer, the voice further added, “Even so, you’re wondering just what the hell that person might be, right? He’s just a human, isn’t he? You are the demon king, aren’t you? It should be impossible for him to cause so much damage with the meager quality of his attribute, right?”
The only being able to fight the demon king on equal terms was supposedly the hero. That fact was something like a rule in this world. Even if someone that wasn’t the hero were to face off against the demon king, and even if that person’s combat ability exceeded the hero’s for argument’s sake, this rule wouldn’t be overturned. Why? Because such a thing had been agreed upon. There not being any room to doubt this rule was common sense in this world.
“Normally you wouldn’t think something like a ranged attack would reach you through the connection before it can be severed. And even if you had considered it, you would think that there’s no way for someone capable of putting that into practice to exist, right? Or, is this the result of some kind of coincidence? Hey, what do you think?”
“The reason why I received damage even in this place…isn’t that something you know much better?” The demon king’s words, which were partly guesswork but also possessed a small amount of conviction, caused the invisible owner of the voice to fall silent for a short while.
For some time silence dominated the hall. Then, before long, pained breathing and intense, violent coughing could be heard from the demon king.
“Otherwise…it would have been impossible for you to have given me such a blessing, wouldn’t it?” The demon king asked and stared at his palm that had covered his mouth when he had his coughing fit.
Bright red blood had been splattered on that palm. The demon king understood that his internal organs had been damaged to some extent. It might heal back to its original state once some time passes, but until then he has no choice but to continue bearing the pain and discomfort of the wound he received, regardless of whether he’s the demon king.
“I wonder? It might have been my pure, good will to grant that blessing to you, don’t you think?”
“Good will, eh? Is it fine to leave it while interpreting it like that?” While carelessly wiping away the blood, which spilled out of the corners of his mouth and dripped down towards his chin, mixing with his sweat, with the sleeve of his attire, the demon king replied with a bitter smile.
In response, a feeling of sullenness was added to the voice, “Are you unhappy with it?”
“Certainly not. Of course I have been thankful, my master. No matter what your intentions might be, that is.” The demon king said, spitting out the taste of iron rust permeating the inside of his mouth along with his saliva on the floor.
“Otherwise, I would have been cursed as incompetent. I had no future other than to waste away as an unneeded person, unbeknown to anyone. Thanks to you, I have been able to carry out my revenge against everything.” The demon king rejoiced.
Those who slandered me.
Those who declared me as unneeded.
Those who didn’t even concern themselves with me, assuming that I didn’t exist.
Those who laughed at me, those who insulted me, those who ignored me, and those who despised me
If we assume that there doesn’t exist any other criterion of evaluation apart from power, then it’s the demon king that holds a power towering at the top of the demons. If I decide everything besides myself is unneeded, scornful, and despicable, then it should be permitted for me to cast it away, the demon king believed. And the demon king didn’t hate exercising that privilege.
“That’s right, isn’t it? I mean, I lent you my help exactly because you desired power while in such despicable circumstances.”
“I’m grateful. That’s why I’ll turn the entire world into my enemy as the demon king. I will conduct myself as the demon king just as it’s expected.”
“I see. It would be a big help for me if you could do that. Though it would help me even more if you could go at it with such vigor that everything and anything disappears, returning the world to an empty lot, if possible.”
“Then give me even more power!” The demon king beseeched the voice. “If you give me power, I will conquer the world. I won’t even mind returning it into nothingness, if you so desire. So, give me more power! Power to a level that makes it possible for me to accomplish all that!”
“Let’s see. Even if you say that, what I gave you the other day was just a part, but it was still a considerable amount, you know? If you can master it properly, it can give you even more power, but…it might be necessary to adjust that area a tiny bit.”
“I don’t care! Do as you like! As long as I can trample everything and everyone with that, I will accept anything!” The demon king shouted.
Like a starving person wishing for a piece of bread, like a parched person yearning for a cup of water, the demon king extended his hand towards the empty air, desiring power with bloodshot eyes, forgetting the pain in his chest, tearing off his arranged hair, and dripping greasy sweat.
The appearance of the demon king couldn’t be regarded as the attitude befitting one standing at the top of the demons. He looked like a beggar asking for money from the people coming and going at a street corner.
Seemingly overpowered by the appearance of the demon king, the voice stayed silent for a while, and then, finally, directed calm words towards the demon king as if throwing a bucket of cold water on him, “Wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t become too agitated? It will probably affect your injuries, no? At any rate, first we have to start from healing those wounds. You won’t be able to endure in your current state and will die soon. Then it would bear no meaning for me to have made the effort.”
The demon king let the hand, which he had stretched out, hang feebly, and while seizing his chest as usual, he managed to squeezed out his voice in between rough gasps, caused by his excitement or maybe because he was unable to bear the pain of his wounds once again, “Understood…”
“For the time being, it might be necessary for you to rest for some time. As for the adjustment and supplement of power, I will consider it on my side, but first you should get properly attuned with ‘that’ which I had granted you first. I think it will be fairly difficult since it’s something of a different attribute, but that’s also something that can be resolved over time.”
“Yeah…understood.” The demon king answered.
“Since the harvest of the necessary things ended to some extent, forgetting that side is no good, okay? For a while you must focus on building up your power. If you end up losing everything by being impatient, it will be meaningless, no matter how much I help you out. Therefore, make sure not to forget it, got it?”
There was no reply to the voice. The demon king had closed his eyes and completely stopped moving, except for a shallow, short breathing.
After seeing that, the voice quietly left the place.
“Now then, for that to get injured so severely was unexpected, but it’s certainly true that it has become a good excuse to waste some time. If I don’t finish adjusting the demon king who used that before something strange happens, that will remain unusable.”
That, which muttered words in a place where no one was listening – words it couldn’t afford to be heard by others, began to wrack its brain about the preparations of the thing that will become the demon king’s new source of power, and about the schedule for adjusting the demon king.