Emil Rajah was a demon.
According to herself, she wasn’t all that eccentric as a demon, even if she hesitated to call herself very decent, and although she admitted to having some issues, she didn’t see herself as such an oddball that it’d allow denying her identity as a demon in itself. And, if one were to ask Renya and the others, they’d describe her as very demonic without any leeway to call her being a demon into question.
However, despite that description, she apparently got heavily influenced by the customs of men, elves, and beastmen after spending a fairly long time among them, resulting in Emil often being evaluated as her acting like herself, rather than her acting like a demon these days.
This story started after Emil returned to the demon country due to certain circumstances, got dragged into troubles over there, and was taken back to Klinge through the combined effort of Renya and his friends.
In truth, Emil was in a bind. After all, she had somehow managed to return to Klinge, which she had temporarily left on her own accord (even if owed to certain circumstances), by relying on the strength of various friends, and not out of her own power.
If she had been an ordinary demon, she might have been able to let bygones be bygones without feeling any debt of gratitude or any concern as it wasn’t as though she had explicitly asked to be brought back, but after having hung out with Renya and the others for a long time, Emil couldn’t simply come to terms with the thinking that she should let the forgetfulness of time handle everything without mentioning anything.
Thus she asked herself what she should do about this.
Confronted with this question, Emil used quite a lot of time to think it through, just to reach a single conclusion at the end of her pondering.
Namely, that she ought to thank them.
Anyone who might have heard this would wonder why she needed so long to reach this obvious answer, but amongst demons it was a highly unusual way of thinking, and usually it’d never come to pass. If the demons were capable of something as normal as thanking someone for saving them, they might have never become the black sheep of this world.
When it comes to thanking, Renya deserves it the most, Emil assessed. At the very least he always kept quiet about me being a demon and he’s the highest authority of Klinge. Moreover, he’s also the person who’s taken over the leadership for my rescue mission. If I consider past incidents and what’s to come yet, I must thank him first and foremost.
After having thought that far, Emil decided to head out in search of Renya. Having said that, even though she’d usually be able to somehow spot Renya, she couldn’t quite find him on this day.
Easily finding something you aren’t even looking for and not being able to find it as soon as you decide to search for it might be a universal law applying to all people and things.
While walking around Klinge with those thoughts in mind, Emil spotted Keith who was the commander of the soldiers entrusted with maintaining Klinge’s public order and Renya’s subordinate. Coming across him unexpectedly just as he was patrolling the city with his men, Emil called him to stop, albeit feeling somewhat bad about interrupting him in the middle of work.
“Sorry ’bout this, Keith-kun, but there’s a little something I’d like to ask you.”
“What might that be?” Keith replied with a polite manner, partly owed to him dealing with a demon.
However, before the matter with her being a demon and so on, it also stemmed from Emil having been his boss’s friend, and moreover her having saved quite a few of his soldiers with her medicines so far. Some of those soldiers even had their lives saved by her. Considering all that, it’d be impossible for Keith to treat Emil rudely.
“You see, I just thought you might know. Do you have a clue where I can find Renya?”
“His Excellency the Margrave?” Keith asked with a pensive look forming on his face. After staying like that for a short while, he politely bowed at Emil, “I am terribly sorry. Unfortunately I have not heard anything about His Excellency’s current whereabouts.”
“I see, then it can’t be helped. Sorry for getting in the way of your work, okay?”
“No, do not worry about it. Please excuse us then.” Keith bowed, and then left while hurrying his men.
Having closely watched Keith’s behavior, Emil had noticed one thing. It was just a vague feeling, but somehow Keith’s attempt to leave appeared more fidgety than usual to her. She believed that she might read too much into it, but on the other hand, now that this worry had struck her, those thoughts wouldn’t simply vanish from her mind.
Even the appearance of Keith and his men, who kept marching away after bidding farewell to her, completely looked as though they were running away without even looking back at all.
For a while Emil pondered whether it might have been her imagination or not.
When considering what to do in order to clarify such a problem, you look at several cases and check whether they share a common trait. I guess I’ve got no choice but to go with a scientific approach here, Emil assessed.
“In that case, I have to decide who I’m going to confront next.”
Assuming Keith quickly fled the scene because he had something to hide, it’s very likely that the same information has reached someone with a position higher than that of Keith. However, Klinge is a city thriving with many quirky people. On top of that, news spread surprisingly fast in this city. If I don’t tread carefully, it’s quite possible I might end up poking a hornet’s nest, resulting in those concerned adopting measures to not be found out by me. Thus it’s necessary to choose wisely.
The one Emil contacted first was Lepard who was becoming an old-timer in Klinge, even among the heroes. As the hero of the beastmen who put battle over everything, Lepard was training at the usual training ground of the soldiers most of the time.
When Emil headed towards that training ground, suspecting that she could find him there today as well, she certainly spotted him training hard by himself. No other soldiers were to be found anywhere.
Even if they were forced by Lepard to take part in his training if they weren’t careful, the soldiers of Klinge were abnormal enough that they could keep up with his pace, and thus they were occasionally even recruited to join Lepard’s combat training as a hero to take advantage of the opportunity. The soldiers of Klinge managed to keep up with that reasonably well too, but none of them was so weird that they’d go along with Lepard, who was famous for being a stamina monster, by choice. As such it had become a custom among the soldiers to train by themselves outside the city until Kaede, the Beastmen Priestess, would pick up Lepard.
“Yo, Lepard. You sure are working hard today.”
“What did you come here for, lass?”
“I’ve just got a little something I’d like to ask you.”
“I see. Great, you’ve come here at the perfect time.”
Once Emil tilted her head, confused about what he meant, Lepard stood up after having done calisthenics in the center of the training ground, and slowly readied himself while beckoning Emil over.
“Umm? That…what does it mean?”
“I’m bored as well. If there’s anythin’ you wanna know from me, how about you keep me company in my trainin’ for a lil’ bit? This way is much easier than drawing out information through talkin’, don’t you think?”
Emil comprehended that Lepard was apparently telling her that she should ask his body if there was something she’d like to know. She took a slight distance from Lepard while hugging herself with both her arms.
“Doing something like that…against my will…”
“That’s not what I’m talkin’ ’bout, you know?”
“What do you intend to do to a frail maiden?”
“Where do you see a frail maiden? I can’t spot any ’round here…”
Emil smiled sweetly in front of Lepard who shaded his forehead with a hand and looked all over the place in an unnatural manner. In the next instant, Lepard’s body slid across the ground with a grand cloud of dust rising in his trail, just to crash into the wall after being blown away for several dozen meters.
Having created a big spider web-shaped cracking on the wall, Lepard’s consciousness was on the verge of fading out after suffering the triple damage of being blown away, sliding across the ground, and getting hit. With his body half-sunken into the wall, his head was hanging down powerlessly.
“You alive over there? Is it okay for me to ask my question now?”
“S-Sure…what do you wanna know?”
While in a state that might have spelled instant death for any human or elf, Lepard was not only alive, but still had enough of his consciousness remaining to hold a conversation. Still, as the damage apparently was quite serious nonetheless, he didn’t even try to lift his face, and the voice coming from him was somewhat shaky and weak.
Although she reflected about possibly having put a little bit too much power into her attack, Emil also believed that he only reaped what he had sown for having such a big mouth.
She asked him, “Would you know where I can find Renya?”
“The margrave? Isn’t he in the castle?”
“I wouldn’t have bothered coming here if he had been there, would I?”
While muttering, “You’ve got a point there,” Lepard raised his face.
Lepard’s body, which had received an attack Emil as a demon considered to have been a little bit too powerful, was in a terrible state with cuts and scratches all over, blood flowing at various spots, and traces of internal bleeding being visible here and there. Feeling slightly sorry for him, Emil retrieved a potion effective against injuries from her pocket, and casually sprinkled it over Lepard’s head.
The potion was sucked into the body through the skin and showed its effect. Slowly Lepard’s wounds began to heal up, and when he had finally reached a state that seemingly allowed him to move again, Lepard peeled his body out of the stone while destroying the surrounding wall, and then sat down on the ground just like that.
“If he ain’t in the castle, I don’t know where he is either. Come to think of it, I feel like he mentioned somethin’ this morning, but I can’t quite remember. Since the usual folks such as Grün, Kurz, and Mayria were with us, why don’t you try askin’ them?”
“Is that so? I see, thanks. In that case I’ll try to get in contact with them, but value your body a bit more, okay? You’re a hero and all.”
“Wait, it was you who did this to me, no…?”
“Then you should watch your mouth a bit more. You only have one life after all.” Once Emil interrupted Lepard putting a tinge of bloodthirst into her voice, even Lepard couldn’t help but hold his tongue, apparently well aware of himself being the reason why things had turned out like this, and reclined his back against the wall he had destroyed.
While waving a hand at him, Emil left Lepard behind, once more heading for the city in order to search for the people who made an appearance in Lepard’s information.
“And that’s why you’ve come to my place, is what you’re saying?”
It was Mayria whom Emil targeted as her next contact person. After all, Mayria had been entrusted with Klinge’s administrative matters, and as such she spent most of her day at the desk set up in the office assigned to her. On top of that, Emil had judged that Mayria was someone she could easily suppress herself if necessary as she didn’t have any combat experience worth mentioning, but there was a slight miscalculation on Emil’s side.
Namely, Kurz who was sleeping on a guest chair in Mayria’s office while snoring lightly.
Even Emil hadn’t expected in her wildest dreams that the most dangerous being among the heroes would be assigned as Mayria’s guard. That was because Mayria would have absolutely no means to stop Kurz if he should go on a rampage for some kind of reason.
Worrying about the guard target being unable to stop the guard could be regarded as getting things backward, but this was an issue one had to consider first and foremost when deploying Kurz. It would be impossible to say that Mayria could be protected like this, but Mayria herself has very likely kept Kurz close to her based on her knowledge of those circumstances.
“It’d be difficult to assign someone who’s busy as my guard.”
“That’s…certainly true, but this here sure is a drastic measure, don’t you think?”
She might be resembling her big sister Shion in such decision-making, Emil thought.
“He’s a charm for me to not get cut down when I finish a talk. So, what kind of business do you have with me?”
“I just would like to know where I can find Renya.” Emil closely scrutinized Mayria’s face as she asked.
Most likely having noticed that stare, Mayria still averted her eyes from Emil for a short moment.
“Oh? Just now, your eyes…”
“I’m sorry, Emil-san. This is nothing I can tell you.”
After quickly telling her only that much, Mayria urged Emil to exit her office by waving a hand, trying to get back to her own work, but Emil gently pinned down that hand. Kurz didn’t react as Emil’s action contained no hostility nor was it an attack. Mayria merely stared at her hand in surprise with no words leaving her lips.
“Mayria, not being able to tell me means…”
“I’m sorry, Emil-san. Could I have you release my hand?”
Emil attempted to somehow find a clue, but the words of Mayria were curt and cold, not permitting Emil to confirm the existence of such a clue. Emil reflexively let go of her hand in response to Mayria’s attitude.
After fleetingly glancing at her wrist which had become slightly red from Emil’s grip, Mayria faced Emil once more and bowed her head deeply, “I’m terribly sorry, but this is nothing I can tell you. Please forgive me.”
Although she apologized while using polite speech, her eyes were pointed at Kurz who was sleeping right next to them. That was a clear warning that she’d be forced to get Kurz involved if Emil intended to go any further than this. It also thwarted Emil from saying any further careless things.
Making sure to put as little emotions into her voice as possible, Mayria urged Emil, who had no hands to play anymore, to leave the room while pointing at the door. Emil could only obey.
After leaving Mayria’s office, Emil started to brood just what was going on. Even though she had merely tried to ask for Renya’s whereabouts, Keith had reacted somewhat oddly, and Mayria seemed to know something about it, but acted as if she had been forbidden to speak. Lepard appeared to have heard something as well, but since he didn’t remember what it was, he didn’t serve as much of a reference.
Unable to explain this any other way than information being intentionally withheld, Emil kept pondering whom she should approach next while walking through Renya’s castle by herself.
I’m sure that I won’t get the information I want unless I rely on slightly forceful means. Moreover, it must be someone who stays up to date with the newest information and whom I can somehow handle myself if it turns into a direct confrontation.
Considering that, she identified two candidates.
“So I gotta go with Rona or Croire, huh?”
Whether I’ll be able to contact either depends solely on my luck at this point.
For some reason or another, Emil decided to search for Rona. The reason for her choice wasn’t anything special.
“There’s more value in looking at a thicc human than a thin elf.”
“What kind of reasoning is that supposed to be?”
Emil very easily found Rona Chevalier. This had a simple reason. Recently a new religion had started to spread among the humans, and the church worshiping the new goddess was located in Klinge. Having been appointed as saintess, Rona was often staying at that church because of her title.
“So, what kind of business do you have with me? Ah, let me just tell you in advance: even though I may look like this, I’m a saintess who’s been officially recognized by the Trident Principality, so please keep that part in mind when speaking with me.”
While thinking, Saying ‘even though I may look like this’ pretty much means that you’re well aware yourself how little that title suits you, Emil asked Rona something that suddenly bothered her while facing the priestess in the church’s reception room.
“I’d like to ask you something a little unusual. Has anything changed from before by you being the official saintess of the Trident Principality?”
“As a matter of fact…not much.” Rona admitted something that ought to make her disappointed without any hesitation, but in reality there didn’t seem to be any special changes in the environment around Rona, just as she had said herself.
The worship of a nameless human god as it had been practiced until now had been replaced with a new god having taken that position, or rather, a worship of a goddess with six wings and twintails. The clergy, which had served the previous god, had been mostly purged, and the clergy, which served the new god, had taken over the management of the church. That in itself was a big change, but Rona had nothing to do with such miscellaneous matters, or rather, she wasn’t allowed to concern herself with them. Even Rona herself apparently understood the reasoning only vaguely.
“It makes sense, in one way or another.”
Generally a being holding the title of saint leads a life detached from secularity, so it might be quite normal for such a person to have absolutely no clue about matters of the organization and power distribution within the organization, Emil assessed.
But, Rona placed a hand on her cheek, and nodded lightly while sighing feebly.
“Even I got a considerable network for gathering information.”
“As a saintess?”
“Yes. Anything wrong with that?”
Emil ended up wondering what she should think about a saintess who maneuvered around in various ways while gathering information and making her subordinate infiltrate secularity.
Not thinking anything about worldly matters while staying in some place completely detached from reality, and light-heartedly thinking about stuff like faith or justice without being able to do anything in particular about things that might upset you; isn’t that what a saint usually does?
“Somehow you seem to be thinking extremely rude things about saints, aren’t you?”
“Isn’t that just your imagination?” Emil answered with a barefaced lie while averting her eyes to look in the far distance.
In response, Rona spat out a deep sigh, “So, what is your business with me?”
Somewhat perceiving that it’d be pointless to press the matter, Rona confronted Emil with that question once more.
“Ah, right, right. Umm, do you know where I can find Renya?”
Once Emil attempted to confront Rona in an awfully straight manner, Rona’s response was extremely simple.
“I don’t. See you tomorrow.” Rona directed her gaze to the church’s door as if informing Emil that this was the way out.
Emil almost ended up going back after reflexively going along with Rona’s awfully plain acting and wording, but she immediately pulled herself together, hanging on without giving up.
“P-Please wait a moment! Isn’t it kinda illogical for you to not know Renya’s whereabouts, Rona?”
“But, I really don’t know where he is.”
“It’s not like you don’t have absolutely any idea where he could be, right?”
“No, I have absolutely no idea.”
Due to Rona’s responses, which seemed exemplary for being curt and unapproachable, Emil brooded on how she should crack that nut, but then she tried something she had thought of right then and there.
“In that case, do you know where I can find my partner, Shion?”
Rona was at a loss for words, obviously having been hit where she hadn’t expected it. Rona was a woman who currently served the new goddess as saintess, but originally she descended from knighthood and used to be Shion’s guard. It wasn’t as if she’d been dismissed from that post, and although things might have changed in name, that duty of hers should still be valid at present. As such it’d be absurdly weird if Rona didn’t possess any information about Shion.
However, there was a reason why Rona couldn’t speak about Shion’s location.
“I’m pretty sure that my partner knows where I can find Renya. Maybe Renya is actually with her as well. So, if I know where to find her, it’ll be no problem to find Renya.”
“That’s your take, huh…?”
Rona muttered with slight frustration in her voice, but that reaction only proved to Emil that people had been forbidden to speak about Renya’s location. However, even after looking at Rona, Emil couldn’t tell at all why everyone seemed to know that they shouldn’t tell her where she could find Renya.
“I’m just guessing here, but does that mean it’s trouble for me as a demon to be around Renya, or something along those lines?”
Emil tried to voice out what she considered to be very likely as a reason she could actually come up with herself.
Earl Renya Kunugi 1 currently holds the position of being acknowledged as the most powerful combat asset in the fight against the demon king by all races. If a demon like me, someone of the same race as the demon king, sticks around him, all kinds of rumors could crop up. It wouldn’t be strange for people, who think that it’d be best for Renya to distance himself from me before such rumors start making rounds, to appear all over. Maybe that’s what’s going on here.
Those were Emil’s thoughts on the matter, but Rona’s reaction towards Emil’s remark went beyond Emil’s expectations.
“Renya isn’t a man who would ever go along with something like that! If some ideas like that started to gain popularity, he’d immediately and without hesitation turn his back on the Trident Principality!”
“I-I have the same impression, but what about his evaluation?”
Even while becoming overwhelmed by Rona suddenly raising her voice, Emil objected that it’d damage Renya’s reputation terribly, but Rona didn’t let that count.
“Besides, if any country suggested doing something like that, that country would be gone from the map by tomorrow! That’s why it’s impossible for that to happen!”
“So you’re saying it wouldn’t be an evaluation on a personal level, right?”
A nation vanishing in a day usually sounded like a joke, but when Renya was involved, it quickly changed into a realistic story. On top of Rona believing that Renya himself would be somehow able to pull it off, the nations created by humans, elves, or beastmen would likely vanish within a night if Renya borrowed a bit of assistance from the dragons. After all, Renya and the dragons shared a relationship that would allow him to do just that.
“Anyway, please stop with that negative thinking. If the others heard that I made you misunderstand things with what I said, I don’t know what they’d do to me…”
“Okay, can’t you tell me what’s going on then? I’ll keep you as a source secret.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Then I’ll run around all the time sobbing while telling everyone that I got tricked by you and was told that it’d be repulsive for demons to approach the human heroes.”
“Aren’t you just boldly threatening her with false rumors that would damage you the most?”
Feeling a sharp impact against the back of her head, Emil pitched forward. Apparently she had been struck by someone from behind. Once she looked back while rubbing the sore place, the person she’d been looking for was silently standing there with a sour look.
“I received a report that you headed over to Rona’s place, so when I came here myself, thinking that things would definitely turn out like this, I had to witness my intuition being spot on, unfortunately.”
Emil had somewhat trouble speaking up properly upon the arrival of Renya as she somehow felt like she hadn’t seen his face for quite a while, but the eyes of Renya clearly showed him being fed up as he looked at her.
On the other hand, Rona felt relieved about Renya having come over to get things under control.
“Renya, you being here means that the preparations are done?”
“Well, I received news that Emil had started to snoop around all over the place. Frau pushed the preparations to get them done in a hurry as it’s not just one night we’re talking about here, and so I visited to invite the main guest.”
“Speaking of the main guest, are you going to have her loosen her hair and wear a dress again?”
“No, it’s fine for her to go as she is. Rather, no one would be able to tell that it’s Emil with the appearance from back then.”
“Umm, excuse me, but could I get some kind of explanation here?”
Emil wanted to stop them from advancing the talks she couldn’t follow in a direction she couldn’t understand, but Renya grabbed her hand, and left the church while dragging her along while she remained dumbstruck.
“We’ll head that way later.”
“W-Wait a sec!? Just what is going on here!? Give me an explanation…”
Renya kept pulling Emil along while ignoring her protests. He had learned from Shion that it was important to not give Emil any time to think when it came to handling her.
After dragging her across the city for a while, they arrived at a house at long last. Emil had clearly expected that she’d be dragged all the way to Renya’s castle, but when they entered the grounds through the gate and opened the house’s entrance door, she unintentionally gasped due to the scene in front of her.
Several maids seemed to busily keep going back and forth within the decorated house. Quickly squirreling around between them, Frau hectically hurled all kinds of instructions.
Passing the entrance area, Emil was led into a saloon by Renya. What awaited her there were narrow tables crammed full with all kinds of drinks and dishes. That feast could only be described as luxurious, even for Klinge which was recently being called as superior to all other existing cities when it came to abundance of food. Standing between the tables were people acquainted with Emil.
“Did you distribute the drinks evenly ~no!? Is there enough food ~no!? Hey, you! Yes, you, Ms. Maid! Aren’t they bouncing way too much ~nano!? Do you want to earn yourself Croire-ane-sama’s resentment ~nano!?”
Frau put the screws on a well-endowed maid, though it was unclear how serious she was. Meanwhile Croire was about to strangle Frau from behind. Keith and Mayria looked somewhat embarrassed. Kaede was trying to remonstrate Lepard who said that it didn’t matter if they kicked up some fuss near Kurz who was looking sleepy. And Grün was keeping them company while smiling bitterly at it all.
“Umm, Renya, what’s this?”
Once Emil asked Renya, trying to confirm her own suspicions, Renya snorted lightly, “It hasn’t been my idea. This time I actually want to remain a spectator, if I have a choice. The one who proposed all this was the basically simple, musclehead girl.”
“That’s a terrible way of calling me, you know?” Shion had approached with a bitter smile after hearing Renya say that.
She held a cup filled with some kind of liquid in each hand, and held out one of them towards Emil who still hadn’t caught up with what was going around her.
“Welcome home, partner. If I could have you not vanish on us without saying anything next time, it’d spare me having to persuade Renya.”
“…I’m back, partner. This is…umm…”
“I won’t poke my nose too deeply into it since you probably had your own reasons, but keep it in mid for the time being, okay?”
Once Emil received the cup while becoming all flustered, Shion tapped Emil’s shoulder with her free hand, a big smile on her face. This gesture made the feeling that she had finally come back to Klinge actually well up within Emil, and at the same time her face reflexively bloomed into a smile, causing some cheers to rise up for her.
“Many things happened, but all that matters is the fact that you were able to come back. For the time being we went with the plan of the musclehead girl to hold a surprise party for you, so there might be some people whom you had inconvenienced, but please overlook it. Still, if you had properly told us from the very start, then…”
“Renya, you’re whining around too much!”
After casting a short glare at Shion, who attempted to change the topic as she panicked about the brunt of Renya’s attack being on the verge of turning her way, Renya continued with a sigh, “Anyway, it’s a celebration for your safe return to Klinge, Emil. The costs are covered by the Earl Household, and since it’d have been too noisy in various ways at the castle, we reserved this house for the party. Please feel free to let loose a bit for today since I’ll look the other way to some extent.”
Emil stared in wonder as it was a fairly lavish feast they had provided. While the participants in front of her raised cheers while hoisting up their cups, the maids opened liquor bottles and crushed the lids of wine barrels. After pouring the various alcoholic beverages into cups and glasses, they lined them up on the tables.
“It’s great that you came back here, isn’t it partner? Otherwise this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Lightly lifting her cup, Shion drained down the liquid within. After hesitating for a short moment, Emil lifted her own cup a bit, and then drained it down in one gulp while smiling at Shion.