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Chapter 18: The Sage Grasps the Keepsake Sword
I was on the roof of the castle.
I watched the Demon Lord’s army being formed below me.
They were the ones who would participate in defeating the Hero this time.
Their total count was two thousand.
Most of them were undead.
The living demons made up only a very small number of the troops.
In order to avoid causing unnecessary damage, only an elite few had been granted consciousness.
Even though they had just awakened, their opponent was the Hero.
I will do my best to prevent my allies from getting killed, but I don’t know how far I can protect them.
I was the Demon Lord, and I was also the one who was in charge of the lives of the people of my domain.
I don’t want to let them die without a fight.
This strategy this time was simple.
First, we will use transfer magic to go to the frontier territory where the Hero was, and then we will attack them under the cover of darkness at sunset.
The other side may have set barriers to block the transfer, but we’ll just use our raw strength to push through.
Since there are no mages who can surpass me, there should be no major obstacles to the operation.
After the transfer, we’ll slaughter the ordinary soldiers.
There should be no problem here.
This had been repeated many times.
They’ll probably counterattack back with holy magic and such, but that was a trifling matter.
As for the greatest threat, the Hero, I was going to deal with him.
There was nothing to make allowances for.
I only had to slaughter him with all my might.
It was impossible that I would be defeated with my strength.
The setting sun emitted a reddish glow from the horizon.
Night was almost here.
It was the time of the undead.
It was the perfect time for an attack.
And so, as I stared into the sunset, a presence approached me from behind.
I could guess who it was, without turning around to check.
“Are the preparations complete?”
I asked perfunctorily while pushing Luciana away from me as she tried to hug me from behind.
Luciana smoothly dodged and sat down next to me.
She crossed her legs in a graceful manner.
“Yes, it’s perfect. We can leave any time.”
Luciana had a knack for it.
She could handle any job without a mistake.
Even during the time of the previous Demon Lord, espionage and sabotage were her main duties.
I remember her wreaking havoc in each nation quite well.
Her skills were still going strong and had contributed greatly to the new era.
“Hey, Demon Lord.”
Luciana stared at my face.
Her eyes seemed to suck me in.
They had traces of a succubus’s unique magical power.
If I were alive, I would have used psychoprotective magic with all my strength.
It’s because I’d be mesmerized and become her slave.
Of course, charm doesn’t work on me now.
I respond to her bewitching gaze without a care in the world.
“How do you feel now?”
“…Why are you asking me that?”
I wondered at her abrupt question.
I couldn’t read her intentions from her expression.
She put a finger to her lips and smiled.
“Because, doesn’t that make one curious?I want to know what’s on your mind, Demon Lord.”
Apparently, it was simple curiosity.
It was not strange, not with Luciana’s uninhibited personality.
I thought about the answer I should give.
A momentary silence hung over the place.
In the meantime, Luciana waited without interrupting.
When my words were in order, I quietly replied.
”—I don’t feel bad. I think I’m calm, if I do say so myself. Maybe becoming immortal has dulled my feelings.”
“Oh, you definitely seem calmer than you did when you were human. Should I say it felt like I stripped off a layer of your personality… Ah, not like stripping in the real sense though.”
“That’s a funny joke.”
Luciana’s unreserved words caused my shoulders to relax nicely.
I can’t come up with such witty quips.
Why can’t I think of them?
Should I learn from her?
Luciana twisted her head and hummed.
She had an oddly serious expression.
On top of all that, she started patting my face with her fingers.
At this, as expected, even I broke my silence.
“Do you have anything more to say?”
“Are you perhaps, laughing?”
Luciana asks me in a serious manner.
It was not a joke like the one before.
I said the answer as it came to me.
“Do you think I can laugh with this face?”
“… Hahaha! That’s certainly true! There’s no way you can laugh with bones alone!”
At that moment, Luciana burst into laughter for some reason.
She rolled around, clutching her stomach.
Did something tug at her heartstrings?
I couldn’t understand it, and I couldn’t seem to empathize with it either.
After laughing for a while, Luciana stood up as she caught her breath.
She exhaled as she stretched out.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re going to be fine if you keep it up. I was worried sick about you.”
I finally understood the situation on hearing Luciana’s words.
Just like with Grom, it seems she was concerned about me going against the Hero.
I thought she was just here to kill time or something.
“I’m sorry that I caused you trouble.”
“I don’t mind. It was harder on that fussing skeleton than it was on me. He has been endlessly practicing how to talk to me in secret.”
Luciana snitched on him with a wicked smile.
Grom seemed to be more troubled than I imagined.
He seemed to be conscious of not putting any mental strain on me in any way.
That concern made me more than happy.
“By the way, how’s Henry?”
“The human archer? He didn’t say anything in particular. Oh, but I think he was complaining about wanting fresh, high-quality meat. He’s such a carefree guy.”
Luciana replied, smiling bitterly.
It was very much like him to act so.
Did he think that there was no need to worry about it?
Maybe that was an indication of his trust.
Learning of my subordinates’ conditions, I stood up and told Luciana again.
“Anyway, I’m fine. Until I fulfill my duties as the Demon Lord.”
“Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you’re in trouble, okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.”
When I replied, Luciana’s expression changed for a moment.
It was full of warmth and affection.
However, her expression quickly switched and returned to her original aloof smile.
“It’s good to hear that. I’ll see you later then.”
Luciana unfurled the wings on her back and jumped off the roof.
After a beautiful glide, she landed on the ground.
She gives instructions to her subordinates around her.
…It’s hard to believe we used to be mutual enemies in the past.
You never really know how life is going to turn out.
I expressed my gratitude to her in my heart.
After leaving Luciana, I headed to the audience room.
The dimly lit room was empty.
I look at the crystal on top of the pedestal.
Inside, I saw her remains floating.
I stopped in front of the crystal.
“I will now go up against the Hero. It seems that I am finally going to be a real Demon Lord.”
The crystal did not show any reaction whatsoever.
It was just there.
“…What do you think of me now?”
I ruminate over the questions I’ve uttered by myself.
What would she say?
Various possibilities came to my mind, but nothing I could be sure of.
I looked at the sword propped up against the pedestal.
It’s the sword that I took back when I killed the king.
Since then, I’ve diligently taken care of it.
“—I’ll borrow it for some time.”
Speaking softly, I gently picked up the sword.
I held the blade above my head as I pulled it out of its scabbard.
At first glance, it seemed like a nondescript sword.
In fact, it had no special abilities.
However, this was a famous sword that had been used in many battles.
It was a sharp sword that has travelled along with the faith of the Hero.
It’s no exaggeration to say that her feelings dwell in it.
I had yet to use this sword.
I was afraid to handle it lightly.
But this time, my opponent was a Hero.
Now was the time to use it.
The sword that once killed the Demon Lord will be handed over to the next Demon Lord, and he will slay a new hero.
I think this was the most ironic story.
I couldn’t help but feel the ruthlessness of the world.
With the drawn sword in my hand, I moved to the balcony using transfer magic.
This is a good vantage point in the castle.
At the same time, it was easy to attract attention from the ground.
Below me, demons preparing for war were coming and going.
I spotted a figure on the rooftop of the castle town.
It was Henry, sitting on a chair and chugging a bottle of liquor.
He suddenly looked at me and made eye contact.
Smiling wryly, Henry slightly raised his liquor bottle.
That would be his way of cheering me on.
I responded with a small nod.
Soon, the demons began to notice me on the balcony.
Instantly, they stopped moving and became quiet.
The air was filled with an anticipation that had grown to the point of bursting.
No more words needed to be spoken.
Judging that, I thrust my sword up and pointed at the sky with its tip.
In the next moment, the Demon Lord’s army erupted in explosive joy.
It was a frenzy that could rip through the skies.
The never-ending roars resounded through the royal city at sunset.
—Thus, the Demon Lord’s army began an expedition to kill the Hero.