──The following day, in the Demon Castle ──
“That concludes this morning’s report, Your Majesty.”
“Thank you, you may leave.”
After receiving the report from the civil officer, Demon Lord Rukie nodded.
With a bow, the elf civil officer withdrew.
It was currently early noon.
The work that had commenced early in the morning had finally concluded, allowing Demon Lord Rukie some reprieve on the throne.
“Perhaps it’s a result of the recent monster subjugation, but everything is presently very calm.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Chancellor Kelve, standing next to the throne, replied.
“However, the development of the mines will commence soon.
It’s an ambitious project, I fear it will be the catalyst for turbulence in the Demon Territory.
Complications will likely arise regarding masters such as securing human resources and ensuring the safety of the labourers.”
Is this the calm before the storm?”
“Yes, it’s as you say, this can be considered an invaluable time for rest and preparation.”
The Chancellor mumbled before sighing deeply, as if expelling his frustrations.
Demon Lord Rukie, worried by his action, said doubtfully,
“What’s wrong, Kelve? Is something bothering you?”
“No, it just occurred to me…”
It’s not much, but…”
Chancellor Kelve peered out the window, pointing towards the south where General Reisenga’s territory lay.
“I feel that the castle is considerably lifeless and uncomfortable without Thor-dono’s presence.”
“Pardon my rudeness.
I didn’t mean to ridicule or demean Thor-dono.”
“No need to apologize.
I know you have no ill intentions.”
Demon Lord Rukie waved her hand to prevent Chancellor Kelve from bowing.
She couldn’t help but recall the time following the monster’s defeat.
It was then, in the midst of her conversation with Princess Liana, that she proclaimed, ── “I won’t hand Thor over,” “He makes me happy,” and “He will always be on my side.”
Kelve and Reisenga had both been nearby.
However, they feigned ignorance.
That continued for a while, but Kelve had recently become increasingly frank when speaking of Thor.
“Don’t worry about it, Kelve.
I feel the same.”
“You as well?”
I think the castle has become quite desolate.”
Demon Lord Rukie glanced around the throne room.
The Demon Castle was the same as usual.
Countless people came and left, and Demon Lord Rukie’s workload didn’t decrease either.
She still scheduled tea breaks to maintain her mental health.
Sometimes, she even invited the castle personnel as well in order to listen to their stories.
Nothing had changed at all.
The castle merely reverted to its state prior to the arrival of Thor.
(And yet, we all feel something is lacking…….)
After defeating the monster and returning to the castle, Demon Lord Rukie visited Thor’s room on several occasions.
Of course, she didn’t find Thor there.
It was obvious, yet she couldn’t help but visit it time and again.
“I wonder what Thor and Mabel are doing at this moment.”
“That’s a foolish question, Kelve.”
Hearing Kelve’s mumble, Demon Lord Rukie replied with a bitter smile.
“That person doubtlessly decided to develop a new item immediately after arriving at Reisenga’s mansion.”
“With all due respect Your Majesty, that may not be the case.”
“Thor-dono possesses a curious mind.
He may be touring General Reisenga’s lands right now, befriending an unfamiliar race.”
“That may also be true… but,” Demon Lord Rukie tilted her head to the side, “Aren’t you just afraid that Thor will send you an application to spread items?”
“That’s also a part of it.”
“You’re so honest…”
“Since Thor-dono arrived in the Demon Territory, I have been continuously perplexed.”
Chancellor Kelve obediently nodded at Demon Lord Rukie’s words.
“My self-confidence as someone who has inherited the Chancellors’ legacy is faltering as well.
Thor-dono continues to create items that aren’t recorded in the oral traditions passed down from the previous Chancellors.”
“Yet you still believe that Thor is deepening his friendship with other races rather than creating something new?”
“……Thor-dono was willing to resolve Mabel and Agnis’s issues of his own volition.”
“So I find it more likely that Thor-dono’s visit to General Reisenga’s land will bring him into contact with a race that he was previously unacquainted with.”
“I see that you are trying to rationalize the anomaly that is Thor, Kelve.”
“I cannot resign myself to being surprised and striking my head against a pillar any longer.”
The Chancellor answered, grasping his forehead.
“But Your Majesty believes that Thor-dono will create a new item and immediately send an application?”
“Umu, that’s where our opinions diverge.”
Demon Lord Rukie nodded, grinning widely.
“I see that you are confident in your prediction.
Then let’s place a wager.”
“Regretfully, I cannot bet with you, Your Majesty.”
“Is that so?”
“However, when Thor-dono returns, we can inform him what transpired today and surprise him.”
I’ll tell him that Kelve and I made predictions about what Thor would do first in Reisenga’s territory.
Thor will be amazed by how accurately we predicted his actions.”
“I can imagine the look on Thor-dono’s face when he hears that.”
“It’s always us who receive a shock.
It’s time to repay some of this debt.”
Demon Lord Rukie unconsciously covered her lips and laughed.
Thor will probably be greatly astonished when he learns that we predicted his actions, as one of them is bound to be correct.
He might invent a new item and attempt to circulate it.
Or he may try to befriend one of the tribes in Reisenga’s territory.
I have no doubt that Thor is involved in one of the two.
(Thor never ceases to amaze me.
I’ve always been on the receiving end, so it would be gratifying to astonish him this time.)
While this thought crossed Demon Lord Rukie’s mind,
“Forgive my impropriety, but I have an urgent matter to announce to Her Majesty Demon Lord Rukie and His Excellency Chancellor Kelve!!!”
A guard’s shout reached their ears from behind the door.
“Enter! Report it immediately!”
As soon as Chancellor Kelve answered, the door burst open and a towering minotaur, one of the castle’s gatekeepers, rushed in.
He gazed towards Demon Lord Rukie and said,
“Reporting to Your Majesty, in front of the main gate of the Demon Castle… pixies have appeared!!!”
“What did you say!?”
“Pixies appeared in front of people!?”
Demon Lord Rukie and Chancellor Kelve exclaimed.
The pixies were a race that scarcely exposed themselves.
They were awarded their own region and the right to self-governance by the first Demon Lord in the past.
When the Demon Territory was first created, the pixies investigated the magic powers of the land and identified suitable locations for farming and grazing.
As remuneration for their meritorious service, the pixies were permitted to seclude themselves in the forest.
They would assist others if requested, but while remaining hidden if at all possible.
Even Demon Lord Rukie had only ever beheld them a few times.
They unfailingly greeted her courteously, but only with their voices.
“Did anyone from the Demon Castle invite the pixies?”
“I don’t believe so.
Why on earth would they be here?”
“I’m unsure myself, but…”
The minotaur guard glanced at the note etched on the wooden tag in his hand.
“The pixies inscribed on here – “Application,” “Alchemist-sama,” and “Delivery.”
Both Chancellor Kelve and Rukie were stunned.
Immediately prior, they had been debating this very topic:
Chancellor Kelve asserted that Thor will likely encounter a new race in General Reisenga’s territory.
However, Demon Lord Rukie insisted that Thor will most likely develop a new item and send in an application for its circulation.
They believed one of the two would be correct, but…
(……You didn’t have to do both at once!? Thor!?)
Demon Lord Rukie involuntarily screamed in her heart.
Besider her, Chancellor Kelve was tightly grasping his head.
Both Demon Lord Rukie and Chancellor Kelve’s predictions rang true, yet also missed the mark.
Neither of them expected Thor to accomplish both at once.
“Anyways, bring the application here.
I’ll go receive the pixies.”
I’ll bring the documents immediately.”
The guard replied.
“But the pixies are concealing themselves behind the trees and refuse to emerge.”
“……It’s because they are a shy race.”
“…How did Thor-dono become acquainted with them?”
Chancellor Kelve dumbfoundedly continued after Demon Lord Rukie.
“The pixies came here because Thor-dono asked them to deliver an application? Still, that does not explain why the pixies would arrive at this hour.
If they sought to remain hidden, they would have delivered the application at night or at dawn while avoiding interaction…but…”
“There’s no benefit in continuing to guess.”
Demon Lord Rukie stood up from the throne.
“Let me inspect the application first.
I’ll speak to the pixies after that.
The best venue would be the backyard of the castle; no one else would be present, and there are more trees to hide behind.
Surely the pixies will feel more comfortable there.”
“But don’t coerce them.”
Demon Lord Rukie added just in case.
The motto of the Demon Territory is ‘Employing the right person for the right task’.
The various tribes were all assigned work relating to matters they excelled in.
And the pixies were executing their assigned task admirably, utilizing their innate talent of discerning the flow of magic power.
Since that was the case, it was only fair to accommodate their shyness.
That’s what it meant to employ the right person for the right task, even the ruler needed to be one competent in managing the subjects.
“But if possible, hint to them they should inform me of what Thor is doing because I’m his frie-no, master.
I need to be aware of his actions and whereabouts.”
With a bow, the guard withdrew from the throne room.
A few moments later, he returned with an application and letter from Thor.
He also left a message from the pixies: “We’ll talk to Alchemist-sama’s master~”.
“I would like to give the pixies clothes, so I would like to ask for your permission… That sounds like Thor-dono alright.”
After inspecting the application, Chancellor Kelve breathed a sigh of relief.
If it’s something at this level, then it’s fine.”
“Is that how it is?”
The pixies’ mobility has always been restrained because of the foliage clothing they wear.
Providing them with more suitable clothing is a possible solution.
If they wear Thor-dono’s [Magic Cloth] clothing, they would be both more agile and able to appear in front of people, therefore being able to assist people unreservedly.
The Demon Territory would be able to borrow…Hm? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!?”
Chancellor Kelve’s hand, which was holding the letter, began to tremble.
The pixies would be able to socialize with people and work normally.
If that happened, the state of affairs inside the Demon Territory would shift.
“……B-but if we refuse this, we’ll be losing a chance to develop the Demon Territory.”
While striking his head against a pillar, Chancellor Kelve voiced his thoughts.
After enduring three blows to his head, he looked at Demon Lord Rukie.
“How are you faring, Your Majesty? What was written in the letter from Thor-dono?”
“It seems that he created a parasol that theoretically nullifies [Ultimate Vivid Light].”
Said Demon Lord Rukie.
“It also says that he befriended a pixie capable of using light magic.
He’s seeking permission to test the parasol’s resistance against light magic.”
If it’s just an item, it’s the same as usual.
A parasol, huh? It can prevent the strongest light magic, [Ultimate Vivid Light]… The [Ultimate Vivid Light] that destroyed the defensive barrier of His Majesty the first Demon Lord!?”
Bang, bang, bang.
“Kelve, I keep telling you that the pillar will fracture if you continue to batter it.”
“How is Your Majesty so calm?”
Rukie didn’t understand it herself either.
“Thor-dono gained favour with the pixies and even invented an item that nullifies the ultimate light magic!? The ideas themselves were according to our predictions, but the item and the race involved are both bewildering! And yet, Your Majesty was only surprised for a moment before you calmed down.
I myself wonder why.”
Rukie was still unsure herself.
The words she had spoken before continuously echoed in her mind.
──I won’t hand Thor over,” “He makes me happy,” and “He will always be on my side
──Always by my side.
──Won’t hand him over.
That is what the Rukie herself proclaimed in front of Princess Liana.
When those words were uttered from her mouth, it was as though Rukie resolved herself to accept everything about Thor.
Thor’s past, his ideals, his creations, everything.
It may be something similar to the way the Demon Lord accepts their subjects as well as their thoughts.
In Demon Lord Rukie’s case, it was something she resolved herself for as an individual.
“It’s simply Thor asking if he can perform an experiment to confirm whether his item can nullify light magic.”
It would be difficult to explain her feelings to Kelve.
That’s why Rukie instead provided a more conventional answer.
“On top of that, we aren’t certain if the parasol will actually produce the desired result.
It is more important to speak to the pixies and learn of how Thor is doing.”
“Y-yes it’s exactly as you say, Your Majesty.”
“The pixies are waiting in the backyard.
I’ll go meet them now.”
With that said, Rukie rose from her throne and walked away.
“Kelve, you can wait here.
I’ll inform you of the details later.”
“What is it Kelve?”
“As your subordinate, I am pleased that Your Majesty is so calm.
Your Majesty has matured.”
“I am not in need of your flattery, Kelve.”
Demon Lord Rukie grasped her mask and robe while replying.
“I am still inexperienced.
It’s just that there is someone who makes me aware of it.
I feel more blessed than any Demon Lord to be supported by such a person.
Someone capable of guiding me and helping me mature.”
And there’s the alchemist who will definitely support me.
With him, I’m not afraid of the Empire, the great Demon Lords of the past, or even my inexperience.
Thinking about that, a gentle smile bloomed on Demon Lord Rukie’s lips.
“I’m a very fortunate Demon Lord.
That’s all there is to it.”
And so, Demon Lord Rukie made her way to the backyard, where the pixies were waiting.
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