The Melancholy of the Demon Army Officer
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 046 – Two Apostles
Eastern region of the Continent.
There was a gentle slope near the Maou Castle, the home of the Demon Army.
In this rich land blessed with a mild climate, warm sunlight illuminated the area as the refreshing breeze gently swayed through the grass. It was such a peaceful and beautiful landscape that it was hard to believe that this was where demons lived.
Amidst the peace, if one listened closely, there were unnatural, intense sounds echoing in the distance. The sound was coming from beyond the forest, from a hilltop plaza. These sounds, which were distinct from that of bird cries, were the sounds of clanging metal and explosions. These sounds echoed regularly, and occasionally, the sound of thunder could be heard as well.
There was a person who was aware that these were sounds of battle, but made no move to stop it. This blond man with red eyes, with a unique presence, was currently watching the battle taking place before him calmly. The noise did not bother him at all.
Beyond the man’s gaze, there were two figures engaged in a fierce fight. At one end, stood a girl with blond hair tied in twin pigtails, who wore a modified military suit. Across from her stood a woman with long black hair, long ears, and a red crystal on her forehead, who wore a bodysuit similar to a leotard. The woman rapidly moved her body around, and constantly clashed weapons with the girl, producing the sound of the battle.
Despite being the one on the offensive, the blond haired girl was clearly struggling. She had a desperate expression on her face, and every move was heavy, as if she was pushing her exhausted body to move. Her actions were completely out of sync with her panting breaths.
On the other hand, the woman’s breath was still steady, and her movements were swift and almost leisurely. She easily dodged the girl’s desperate sword and gun attacks, and sometimes chose to deflect them. She looked like she had total control over the situation.
And finally, the girl’s knees trembled as her fatigue reached its peak. Without missing a beat, the woman took advantage of this moment of weakness and rushed towards her to attack.
At that time, the man’s voice echoed.
The shout signaled the end of combat. The woman, who had finally switched on the offensive, immediately stopped her charge and smoothly sheathed the sword in her hand. She exhaled a little, as if she had just finished stretching, and stood, relaxed and breathing normally.
On the other hand, the girl had been bracing for the attack, but knew she could neither block nor avoid it in her current state. She resolved to take some damage, but ended up being saved by the voice. Even as she was on the brink of complete collapse, she managed to keep enough strength in her legs to stay standing, but she was forced to lean on her weapon for support.
The man looked first at the woman, who seemed ready to fight again at any time, then at the girl, who could no longer keep going. He addressed both of the people there, who were in such wildly contrasting conditions:
“It’s Hunty’s victory… both of you, take a break for a while.”
The woman called Hunty nodded and moved instantly to where there were water bottles sitting in the shade. She took one for herself, but before drinking from it, grabbed another bottle and went over to the other girl,
“—Take it, Carol.”
And presented the water bottle to the girl who still had not moved from where she had desperately kept standing, head bowed in exhaustion.
Without touching the water bottle presented to her, the girl called Carol muttered once in a small voice.
Then, as if trying to throw her indignation toward the sky,
“—I lost again—!!”
The man’s eyes went half-lidded, while Hunty leaked out a wry laugh.
As Carol finished with her scream, she took a deep, gasping breath, and then looked at the man,
“Leonhart-sama! Why can’t I win?!”
And asked such a question.
The majin who received the question, Leonhart, responded to the words of his apostle.
“…It’s because you’re weak, I guess…”
Carol swayed as if shocked by her master’s merciless response. Hunty reached out, worried that she would fall over, but fortunately, Carol once again channeled her remaining strength to her feet and stood, wobbling like a newborn deer.
When the other apostle, Hunty, saw the exchange between her master and her senior, she exasperatedly
“…That’s too simple of an answer, don’t you think?”
Retorted to her master’s ruthlessness.
Majin Leonhart’s expression became weird as he heard his own apostle, Hunty’s words.
Hunty shot him an expectant gaze. She stared at him, and tilted her head towards Carol, as if saying, Don’t you have anything else to say?
As he received Hunty’s questioning gaze, Leonhart thought a little more carefully. Hunty was right — he should tell the facts accurately. He decided to revise his statement. Therefore, toward Carol, whose feet grew weaker with every second,
“Indeed, that’s not exactly accurate… there’s another reason.”
“! What would that be?!”
Aah, that is to say… and with that as an opening, Leonhart delivered the finishing blow:
“—It’s because you’re weaker than Hunty.”
Carol completely lost the will to stay strong and dropped to her knees. Hunty, dismayed at how Leonhart had completely misread her silent communication, then,
“I didn’t mean for you to change the wording?! Actually, it practically has not changed at all!!”
Retorted out loud this time. Upon seeing Hunty so emotional about this situation, Leonhart tried again:
“…Sorry, I made a mistake. It’s because Hunty is too strong, I guess. After all, she was able to fight me. Carol is not weak, she’s a proud member of the Demon Army, after all.”
“Just say that from the beginning— I can’t say anything like that, because it totally sounds like sarcasm if I say it myself…”
Hunty said as she awkwardly scratched her cheek. Leonhart then tried to supplement it,
“But that’s true. That’s why Carol, don’t be too depressed.”
And awkwardly spoke words of comfort to his apostle.
“Muu… I’m not depressed… I’m just disappointed…!”
Carol responded to Leonhart’s voice with a mortified expression on her face. As she relaxed on top of the cool grass, she moistened her throat with the water from the bottle that Hunty had given her. Hunty had drawn the water from the nearby mountain stream, and it was naturally cool and refreshing.
Carol let out a satisfied breath after drinking it, and it looked like her exhaustion had mostly disappeared. However, as she clenched her fists and took in another deep breath to shout, it seemed her disappointment had not lessened at all.
“I’m just disappointed because I can’t win against Shichisei at this rate!! It irritated me that I couldn’t beat Hunty despite her holding back!”
With that said, Carol gritted her teeth and covered her face. It seemed that the whole situation was very mortifying for her. It was clear that her defeat was affecting her very deeply, due to the fact she brought up the name of Camilla’s apostle, Shichisei, who hadn’t been present for any of these duels. For Carol, he was her enemy, or rather, sworn rival.
As Leonhart heard that, he sighed. Not again. Realizing that he just had to wait until Carol let out all her frustration, he spoke out,
“By the way, whom are you most irritated with?”
“Shichisei!! Also, myself! — But this time, Hunty-san also irritated me! Why are you so strong?!”
“Eeeh?! In the end, I’m included too?!”
“…I asked which one is the most, though… in the end you spoke of everyone that could be related to it.”
Or is it that she felt indignant to everyone to a similar degree? Such a thought randomly floated through Leonhart’s brain. He really couldn’t understand these feelings.
Meanwhile, Hunty was troubled as Carol turned her disgruntled expression towards her and stared at her out of the corner of her eye. Of course, Carol wasn’t seriously angry with her, and at this moment she was more like a pouting child. She only truly got angry when Leonhart was looked down upon, or when she hadn’t carried out an order well, or when Shichisei showed up. Therefore, when she asked that question, she wasn’t actually mad that Hunty was strong. Rather, it was a question asked out of frustration, due to her hate-to-lose attitude and aspiration to become better.
But I have to answer her properly, thought Hunty as Carol puffed her cheek and looked up towards her. I at least owe her this, since she’s trying so hard.
“…Every time we sparred, Hunty was forbidden from using Instant Movement and instructed to stay on the defensive. Even with this handicap, I still can’t win, and I can’t outlast her! It makes me feel worthless as a senior…! Regarding this point, what are your thoughts as a junior?!”
“N-no… well, that’s…”
Hunty seemed to find it hard to say anything in response. Then she glanced toward Leonhart for help.
It was because the person who suggested this rule in the first place was Leonhart. He put those restrictions to Hunty for this kind of mock combat between apostles.
Instant Movement was a magic that could be said synonymous to Hunty. She used this magic to evade the attacks of others and instantly strike at any opening. This instinctive ability, as well as aggressive attacks in general, were forbidden. Thus, she was mostly forced to wait for attacks and defend against them at regular speed.
It was something that was established so that the match could be fought properly despite the difference in raw combat ability between the two apostles. Although Carol was dissatisfied with the idea of Hunty basically being forced to fight a completely different combat style, she was aware that Hunty was much stronger than her, so she reluctantly agreed to it.
But it definitely made her irritated that she had never even gotten close to winning. Every battle so far had ended with Leonhart having to call off the battle, and Hunty looking unfazed. Carol’s aspiration to be better was strong and she hated to lose, after all. She didn’t claim to be the most perfect apostle in Demon Realm for nothing.
Perhaps because Hunty was aware of her strong pride about the matter, she returned her gaze from Leonhart back to Carol and opened her mouth to answer Carol’s question.
“…You’re getting harder to deal with, though. Your gun was troublesome as usual, and your swordsmanship is also getting better… to be honest, I don’t think you’re weak.”
“But then, I still can’t win… muu~…”
Carol was sullen, despite agreeing with Hunty’s words. As Hunty thought about what she said, she realized that despite her best intentions, her words still came out sounding like she was just emphasizing how strong she was.
But it also made Hunty think. I guess it is something that must be said, this difference in base power.
In fact, Carol wasn’t weak. She obviously could overwhelm humans, and she was strong enough to come out victorious against demon generals, which were known to be among the elite demons. She wasn’t an apostle for nothing, after all.
However, her combat ability among the current apostles would have to be the top rank of the middle caste. Although the only people she ever fought directly against were Hunty and Shichisei, she lost miserably against both of them.
Although there were tons of details regarding why she might lose and why they might win, the major variable would be the difference in individual qualities and race origin. Even though they were all apostles, their former races were different, but even members of the same race would have individual differences in quality as well.
Shichisei was an apostle who was formerly a nephrite dragon. Hunty was formerly a kalar, or so she publicly claimed (in reality, she was formerly a dragon kalar). Although the difference wasn’t impossible to overcome, they innately possessed greater qualities compared to those apostles who were formerly humans. This was especially true of Shichisei and Hunty, since dragons innately possessed greater physical abilities and kalar innately possessed greater magic power. These qualities were further strengthened as they were turned into apostles.
On the other hand, Carol was formerly a Commander. They were gal demons who possessed great intelligence and tactical ability, although these qualities were weaker to their superior species, known as Battle Notes. They were not a species innately suited for direct combat.
Carol was working considerably hard despite those factors, but,
“…I’m also getting stronger, after all…”
Hunty quietly leaked out such words as she exhaled. The one who reacted to that was Leonhart. The corner of his mouth quirked in a little smile as he looked at Hunty and pointed out,
“It seems Hunty can boast now. Can I expect a good battle then?”
Hunty immediately wore a disgusted expression on her face. I guess I just brought unnecessary trouble onto myself in the future, thought Hunty, as she regretted speaking out such unnecessary words. As Leonhart saw that, he unleashed a tiny bit of his fighting spirit and said, teasingly,
“Also, you seem pretty relaxed, even refreshed… want to go for round two?”
Hunty looked at Leonhart with half-lidded eyes. Didn’t we already do it earlier? Was the thought that Hunty managed to swallow back before she recklessly spoke again.
However, Hunty sighed and said,
“…Okay then, let’s do it.”
Leonhart looked at her with a surprised expression when she agreed. He then looked at her with renewed interest and said,
“…I didn’t expect you to agree. Do you really want to do it? No pressure, I won’t be upset if you back out now.”
“…No, you the one who asked, right? I just responded to your inquiry. If it were my own initiative, I wouldn’t have asked, but I can do it. If you want.”
Hunty prickly pointed out that Leonhart was the one asking in the first place. She felt quite insulted since it sounded like she was some kind of battle-hungry maniac.
But even as Leonhart received those backpedaling words, he still gave a gaze full of interest to Hunty.
Then his expression softened. At the same time, his fighting spirit disappeared.
“Sorry, I was kidding, but… well, let’s not do it today.”
“Uwah, that’s rare… to think Leonhart refuses to fight…”
Leonhart replied with “you may be right,” as he agreed to Hunty’s muttered, slightly annoyed words. But he continued on,
“…But I’m satisfied with something else for today. It seems you got used to it…”
Hunty cast a suspicious look towards Leonhart, who said such a vague thing. As she was prepared to ponder this for the rest of the day, Leonhart clarified,
“Well, I just thought you also got used to your life as an apostle. It’s almost like you’re enjoying it, now.”
Hunty now understood the meaning of the words he had spoken earlier.
However, Hunty frowned subtly as she also thought about how to respond. The reply she gave after a while was,
“Well… it’s been 120 years by now. I’d get used to it even if I didn’t want to.”
She shrugged her shoulders and spoke these words absently, as if already reminiscing about her past.
Hunty looked back through her memories. There’s actually many things that have happened since the beginning of my life as an apostle, she thought.
120 years ago, at the end of her battle against Majin Leonhart, when she thought she was going to die, she ended up turning into his apostle.
Surprisingly, however, he didn’t enforce any restrictions on Hunty like a majin would usually enforce upon an apostle. In fact, he even allowed Hunty to roam freely, and would only ask her to return for important events. As long as she was aware her identity to the world was that of an apostle, and she needed to behave taking that into consideration, she was given the freedom to do whatever she wanted. However, she was ordered to visit him once a month for battle.
She reluctantly accepted that — although, she actually had no choice but to accept it. Anyways, that was the beginning of Hunty’s life as an apostle.
As Hunty lived in a human town, she would come to Maou Castle once a month, where she met her fellow apostle Carol, Majin Camilla, who she had complicated ties with, and Maou Ssulal, who was completely different from her initial imagination. She came to meet various members of demon army, but the toughest activity of all was,
…The mock combat is surely nerve-wracking…
The mock combat she had to do against Leonhart once a month.
It was the main reason why she was being asked to visit, after all, and Leonhart never forgot about it. He was always looking forward to it, and it was quite frustrating for Hunty to be beaten down all the time. Before she knew it, Carol also began to participate in mock combat and she also had to spar with Carol. Carol was much weaker than Leonhart, but her fighting style was very different, so combined with her handicaps, Hunty had to pay careful attention in these duels as well.
As a result of doing this almost regularly, Hunty was slowly but surely getting stronger.
Rather, it was more correct to say that she had no choice but to get stronger. Sometimes Leonhart came up with absurd techniques and proceeded to try it against her without hesitation, and this was tough to handle on its own. Adding in his monstrous strength meant that Hunty always felt like she was on the brink of death when he tried out random attacks.
Perhaps since it was mock combat, he would never go all out, so Hunty didn’t have to worry about suffering from a heavy wound that would otherwise leave her at death’s door. But the wounds, even minor, were still painful, and it was exhausting both physically and mentally.
As the frustration piled up, she tried to release it through these mock battles. She thought more carefully about her tactics, and every time she caught him off guard, her frustration was slightly relieved. But — this also triggered his battle maniac tendency and the combat would end up escalating to messed up mode, and Hunty would get beaten down again in the end. [T/N: this mode is more like a game difficulty mode, so you can tell how hard it is to be referred to as “messed up” mode.]
Although, it wasn’t like being an apostle was all bad. It was nice to have a place she could technically belong to, and everyone at Maou Castle was nice to her. But, in typical Hunty fashion, she still worried. After all—
…The fact that I am gradually getting used to this, even liking this, is worrying…
This made Hunty inwardly feel something that she didn’t understand, a subtle feeling of some sort.
This was the result of her getting used to these mock combats. There was also her obstinacy to try to show an impressive result to Leonhart.
Because of that, she agreed to Leonhart’s suggestion earlier which made him react with surprise, commenting that it was unexpected of her. Hunty had agreed based on her own choices, but now that she thought about it more carefully, she also felt weird about it. Did I also become a battle maniac like him? thought Hunty.
…No, if I’m still questioning it, I should still be okay…
Hunty shook her head and firmly denied such a development. Although being turned into an apostle might have made her more aggressive, she still considered herself nothing like the battle maniac as Leonhart was. She definitely wasn’t a masochistic pervert who got heated up the more she got wounded.
“It’s nice to get used to it, but… it makes me feel complicated about it.”
“…Don’t say that.”
As Leonhart said that, he casually opened the water bottle he received from Hunty and drank from it. Then, he put a hand to his chin and looked away, as if a little shy to continue,
“I really feel reassured that you are getting used to it, after all… especially regarding you helping me with my work.”
“Aah, yeah. Well, that, huh…”
Hunty remembered and nodded.
As Carol, who still lay on the ground, heard that, suddenly sat up and looked at Hunty with her usual perky attitude. It seemed like she had completely recovered from her frustration.
“Now that I think about it, Hunty-san began to help with work, and before we knew it, she became really good at it. The frequency of your visits also increased following that.”
“…Well, you seemed to always have a hard time with your work, so I just came to help, though.”
That was her reason to come more than once a month: Hunty tried to emphasize that meaning with her words. Then as if to supplement Carol’s praise, Leonhart was also,
“I’m mostly piled up with work after all… it definitely gave me an easier time, though.”
Said such a thing, and Hunty nodded in agreement, looking unfazed. In fact, Hunty did see him in such a state, and she began to help him because she felt bad about it.
Back then, Hunty would reluctantly visit once a month and go straight to Leonhart’s room in Maou Castle, intending to get the fight done as soon as possible so she could leave. However, she would also see him busy with work and surrounded by a never ending amount of documents, and would always have to wait a few hours for him to even reach a point where he could take a break.
As she saw Leonhart desperately doing his work, she somehow began to help. After all, it did feel wrong for her as an apostle to only watch her master busy without her doing anything to help, such was the reason she told herself.
Although Hunty originally didn’t want to help the Demon Army, considering her background of living in a human village, she slowly changed her mindset and felt like it wouldn’t be too bad to just help decrease the amount of documents that surrounded Leonhart. Although if she thought about it, this change of mindset also caused her worry, but,
…Well, I guess it should be okay, I’m just being considerate of my master.
Such was how Hunty justified her actions. The suggestion she lightly gave with that thought in mind was,
“…How about you take a break for once?”
Such words. The meaning behind these words wasn’t just a light break for the afternoon, but more of vacation.
However, Leonhart shook his head in response to Hunty’s unusual concern,
“I’m grateful for your thoughts, but I can’t. Without me, the work wouldn’t proceed— though it won’t become a complete crisis, it will definitely cause problems for the Demon Army, and there’s no good replacement.”
“I was also called by Ssulal afterwards, today. On top of that — it is work related, so I can’t delay, and it will likely take up the rest of the day.”
And Leonhart’s expression became serious. Both Hunty and Carol tilted their heads as they heard that,
“…Work? That girl is? …I guess, despite how she looks, she is still the maou-sama.”
“Ssulal-sama often calls for Leonhart-sama, but… it is rare for it to be something work related, it’s usually just at her whim…”
“…Both of you sure are rude.”
Leonhart felt weary as he heard their evaluation that their maou was considered a slacker who didn’t even work. However, he didn’t scold them harshly, and only gently chided them in a somewhat quiet tone. Perhaps he also thought the same, but his stature didn’t allow him to say that openly. It sure is tough being a majin, Hunty thought, as she inwardly sympathized with him. But at the same time she obediently had an understanding expression on her face and said,
“Aaah… so that’s why you refused the mock combat.”
“…Although that is the main reason, don’t pretend like I’m cruel enough to do it if I didn’t have such an appointment. After all, I did try to be considerate to you…”
“But if you have no appointment, you would accept it in the end, right?”
“………In fact, for Ssulal to directly ask me for a work related matter is—“
“Ah, you ignored me.”
“Leonhart-sama’s ignoring skill is top notch, right?”
As they watched their master shamelessly ignore any developments inconvenient to him, Hunty’s eyes became half-lidded, and Carol gave him a misaligned compliment.
Leonhart ignored all of that and turned toward Maou Castle. He started walking without looking back at them. It was meant to be a signal, as if saying “We’re done here, let’s go,” but at the same time it also looked like he was trying to escape from an awkward situation.
Meanwhile, Leonhart finished his train of thought,
“…It’s rare for her to request me for something work-related. I wonder what she is trying to ask of me this time…maybe it could be related to…”
He kept muttering like this the whole way back toMaou Castle.
Along the way, Hunty kept staring at him with half-lidded eyes, waiting for a response, but he never responded.
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