Behind the Scenes ―― Demon King’s Melancholy
Northern part of the demon territory, the crimson castle.
Looking at the man kneeling on the cold stone paving with his head down, Demon King Haizuka thought.
―― What a worthless man.
The kneeling man, Earl Gaien, was keeping his face down and reporting about the movements of the Orcs, which embarked on a plundering expedition towards the human kingdom.
“The withdrawal has been mostly finished and almost everybody has returned to this side of the border.”
Gaien peeked at Haizuka’s from below. At the very top of his sight, what barely entered his vision was the gesture of a finger twirling the black curly hair that spilled till her chest. It was Haizuka’s habit when she was in a bad mood.
In contrast to his silent master, Gaien continued speaking fast.
The pressure emitted by Haizuka, made Gaien who displeased her, want to ask for the permission to leave as soon as possible.
“The damage of Orcs is approximately 4000. Although the initial numbers were small to start with, it doesn’t even amount to the half of the expeditionary force.”
The Orcs were stupid. They never used anything like battle formation, strategies or tactics in the battle. They did not possess enough intelligence or general concept for that.
However, they were daring. They surged forward in swarms, invaded and plundered. They would absolutely never stop their advance unless their commander, the King, died.
Still, the King this time was a bit too brave. Standing on the front lines, he assaulted the human knight group and fell early on. Thus the Orcs fled.
That is the reason why Orcs had few casualties during this expedition.
The man with an awful hobby, who treated his subordinates as chess pieces and took pleasure in making them attack human kingdom.
That was all of Haizuka’s evaluation of Gaien.
―― Well, the likes of humans are the perfect opponents for him.
Haizuka recalled an event that happened about 120 years ago. The time when Gaien himself raided the kingdom of humans, was wounded and quickly withdrew. The result was merely a single destroyed city.
The demons had several customs. One of which included the prohibition to leave the demon territory. It was an old custom, established by the first emperor.
Gaien broke that prohibition. At that time, Haizuka, who had just inherited the Demon King’s position, sensed that she was taken lightly and punished him appropriately.
First, she ordered Gaien, who was recuperating, to attend the audience in the castle as soon as his injuries healed. And gave him, who had appeared at the audience with a fully recovered health, a slightly longer recuperating life.
She roasted Gaien medium-rare.
Ever since then, Gaien had never broken demon customs ―― but instead degraded into a boring man who was always on edge before Haizuka.
Even now, the atmosphere of fear could be felt from Gaien.
Haidzuka decided to bully him a little bit.
“Raise thy face.”
Gaien, having been allowed to raise his face, timidly inquired Haizuka's expression.
Haizuka kept silently looking at Gaien's eyes.
After enjoying Gaien's bewilderment for some time, she beckoned General Jihou which was waiting near the throne and whispered to him in a low voice.
Jihou nodded lightly and informed Gaien.
"It looks like you can withdraw."
"…Huh? I-in that case, please excuse me."
Gaien, who thoughts that he would be called out in some way after the report, tried to leave reverently while his eyes were darting about.
He felt disappointed after preparing his mind for reprimanding because of the atmosphere around his master.
Jihou's voice came from the back.
“Oh, right. Given the Orcs’ small loss, in a few years, their numbers will grow again and another large famine will break out. Do not overwork your retainers too much.”
"Good. You can withdraw now."
When Gaien's figure disappeared from the audience room, Haizuka's intimidating air disappeared and the whole atmosphere around her changed.
"Hey, hey, did you see? That blank look on Gaien a moment ago…"
Haizuka slapped Jihou's shoulder while snickering.
"Don't bully your subjects too much."
Jihou admonished Haizuka which was holding her stomach and enduring laughter.
"I-I mean. Right?"
She seemed to be trying to hold back her laughter, but her attempts weren’t very successfully.
"Haizuksama, Marquis Kyoui is awaiting the audience in the anteroom."
"I know, jeez! But my throat is dry. Let him wait for a while…Ah~ my stomach hurts~"
Haizuka was writhing while holding her side and snickering.
"However, after this there is still――"
"I want to drink eclair leaf tea…Like I said, I know, it won't take that much time."
While avoiding Jihou's accusatory look, Haizuka sighed deeply. And then called out to the page to prepare tea.
Occupying almost half of the east, approximately ¼ of the continent, was the demon territory that boasted of vastness.
In order to differentiate the demons that lived there from the few demons that lived in the west side, they were named eastern demons.
Sixteen Demon King's existed in the east currently. Demon King Haizuka's territory was located in the north. There were four Demon King's in the north and they had been fighting with each other for many years.
Among the four northern Kings, the Demon King Housen, which had taken up residence in the northeast, was considered to be the leader. This was due to the old custom of making the elders into the chiefs of each area and had nothing to do with the Demon King's strength.
And Haizuka had the worst relationship with the leader of the northeast, Housen.
――Haizuksama is better suited to be the leader than that senile old fool Housen.
This is what an influential noble under the command of Haizuka, Marquis Kyoui always thought. It was his pet theory that Housen had simply lived the longest out of the four kings and from the perspective of the power, only Haizuka was fit to serve as the leader.
Few days ago, Kyoui had a fight with the nobles under Housen. Although he managed to injure them, because of the Chimeras (kanji: winged magical beasts) gathering in the vicinity. he ended up letting them escape.
After being interrupted just when he was one step away from the victory, he diverted his feelings by taking on few dozens of magical beasts.
However, even though he let the enemy escape, he absorbed the magical powers overflowing from the blood that Housen's underlings shed and felt the sensation of the fullness of the power that he had not felt in a long time.
Kyoui had thought that this time's audience was most likely about that matter, since the matter should have already been reported to Her Majesty.
He defeated the retainers of Housen, who Haizuka hated. He might even receive a reward. That would be blood ―― A large amount of magical powers seething from the blood of Demon Lord.
However, he also thought. Kyoui's lord was very whimsical. There was also a possibility that she would blame him for letting them go away despite heavily wounding them.
Ultimately it all depended on Haizuka's mood.
That being said, Kyoui was one of the most powerful nobles even among Haizuka's retainers. He also prided himself in being strongly trusted by his master. Unless something of a very big significance happened, there was no way he would be reprimanded for this matter. Because he had ultimately won the battle.
However, the words that Kyoui was granted with were neither that of praise nor of scolding.
"Stop picking fights in Housen's territory from now on."
Kyoui was astounded by the abruptness of this development.
They have been fighting with Housen for many decades before this. And now ―― a ceasefire without any prior notice?
This far exceeded the level of a whim.
Haizuka continued talking to the speechless Kyoui.
"The Four Kings in the north plan to acknowledge Demon King Senksama as the new leader and plan to start a war with the guys in the capital."
The gears in Kyoui’s mind hecticly started to turn.
Demon King Senka…it was a name that he had heard. Originally he was an unknown Demon King. You get some of those from time to time ―― frog in a well, was it? Fools who overestimate their strength and call themselves Demon Kings. Those bunch usually get disposed of immediately.
At first he thought that Senka was like that too. However, recently he heard a report from his subordinate that one of the Four Kings had lost to that Senka fellow.
Kyoui laughed it off as a nonsense and something impossible.
―― Was that true? But why….
"How could they make him into the leader all of sudden?! Disregarding Haizuksama…I cannot accept this!"
Hearing Kyoui raise his voice without understanding his own status, Haizuka slightly narrowed her eyes. Though, she answered without any signs of being concerned about it.
"Senksama is stronger than me. That should be enough as the reason, right?"
For the demons, who emphasize the significance of the power and consider the strength as the virtue, it is natural for the strong to rule and the weak to obey.
The reason why Kyoui revered Haizuka and devoted his loyalty to her was not only because of her beauty, but also because of her strength as the Demon King. The sense of value towards the women also came not from their looks, but from their power.
And that master of his was saying that she would obey because the opponent was stronger. Although he was not convinced, there was nothing he could say in opposition
"This is not only my own idea, but rather the consensus of the Northern Four Kings."
Although reluctantly, Kyoui showed the will of submission.
"I will send a messenger a few days after and call the nobles for the war council. The details will be relayed at that time. Have your subordinates prepare for the war without a moment's delay."
"As you wish."
After that, Kyoui was given some words of appreciation and allowed to leave.
"How could they make him into the leader all of sudden?! Disregarding Haizuksama…I cannot accept this!"
Haizuka narrowed her eyes to observe Kyoui which displayed his anger on surface.
He was a man with strong loyalty. There were even few occasions when he showed feelings that were close to the worship. That anger was directed not towards Haizuka, but rather it was resentment towards Senka who had been abruptly appointed as the leader of the north,
Kyoui's anger was understandable.
Haizuka was also one of those who had been belittling Senka until she found out about his power.
But, Senka was strong.
Haizuka was defeated without leaving so much as a scratch on him.
Thus far she had fought against several Demon Kings ―― however, this was the first time she had tasted defeat. Senka's powers were in an entirely different league. To the point that it made her think that he could even take on the Four Kings of the North at the same time and win.
However, without taking power from Haizuka, Senka said courteously, with a domeanor that could even be called elegant.
'I want to rule over the North, would you please lend me your help?'
She thought that he was a sarcastic man. Without stealing the defeated Haizuka's powers, asking her to degrade herself to becoming his subordinate.
That always composed attitude touched her nerve. His beauty was also up to her nose. And on top of all, he was stronger than her.
However, she had no objections to becoming his subordinate. The demons determine their ranks only with the degree of their strength. And Senka was stronger than Haizuka. It was natural for her to obey him.
―― But, that aside….he's still disgusting
Her dislike turned to utter repulsion once she heard from the other Demon Kings that Senka had a lover.
The rumoured lover was said to live north of Haizuka’s territory on the other side of the border, in the old castle on human territory. This woman had broken the taboo of the Demons.
A few days later, Haizuka set off for that castle. As Demon King, if there were those who broke taboos, it was only her duty to punish them.
It was not like she was particularly interested in Senka's lover
That woman seemed to be the master of the old castle, but she was not even the noble.
―― Why does he care for such a boring woman?
Haizuka was unable to understand.
――As the punishment for violating the taboo, I will kill that woman.
When she saw the woman's figure in distance from the gently-sloping hill, she understood.
Such beauty that even Haizuka of the same-sex was enchanted. Beautiful features that crushed the values of the demons who honor strength over the appearance to the dust.
After being fascinated for a while, Haizuka thought. It would be way too wasteful to kill her. I'll take her back to my castle and keep her as mine.
Haizuka had hid her immense magical power and was observing the situation from a very long distance. However, the woman seemed to have noticed her presence.
―― I see.
It looks like she at least has a noble-level power. According to Haizuka's judgement, the woman possessed enough powers to rival Gaien, who held the rank of an Earl.
At that moment, she suddenly thought. Forcefully taking Senka's lover away would be a bad idea no matter how one looked at it. It would only provoke his anger. Moreover, she had also broken the prohibition to leave the demon territory. Not to mention, that woman was not one of Haizuka's subjects.
After weighting risks and benefits against each other, she chose to quietly return to her castle.
After that, each time Haizuka thought about the mistress of the old castle and Senka, she felt a murky feeling swirling in the depth of her heart.
However, Haizuka could not understand what kind of emotion had brought it forth.
After speaking several words of gratitude, Haizuka saw off Kyoui, which left after delightfully giving a respectful bow.
"That man can be used. He’s smart and understands his own position well."
"Indeed. Hereafter he would most likely become a good restraint for those who do not understand their place."
Jihou nodded at his lord's thoughts.
From now on, Haizuka would join hands with the Northern Kings which she had fought with for many years, and go in war with the Demon Kings in the capital.
Haizuka’s authority over her retainers was absolute, but the nobles were many. Disputes were bound to happen where she couldn’t reach. And since Kyuoi was popular, he had enough ability to manage those kinds of people.
"You're right. I'm a bit tired…I would like some sweet――"
"The messenger from Housen-dono has been waiting."
"…I understand, make him wait for a little more. Before that, I'd like some baked sweets or ――"
She glared at Jihou, who said as if reproaching her.
"W-what is it? Haven't I had audiences continuously from the morning?! If I don't eat something sweet, my skin will become rough!"
Without questioning the causal relationship between sweets and the skin condition, Jihou opened his mouth solemnly.
"You are also making Viscount Kaisen to wait."
Haizuka attacked Jihou with a very displeased gaze.
Her elegant black eyes were moist and possessed loveliness that would make those who saw them, cave in.
"The messengers from the other Kings are also scheduled to arrive within today."
Jihou did not care at all.
"I get it, but even if it's just for a little bit, something sweet――"
"If you have a tea break after every audience, your duties will not end today."
Haizuka's sweets were swamped with work.
The seasons changed to the spring thaw. Following after, the summer also passed, the short autumn came to an end in the blink of an eye, and the long, long winter was about to arrive once again.
A year had passed in the snowfield's old castle and Alfra grew a little bit taller. The environment changed greatly.
Byakuren, which has almost changed into a different person, was descending on the stairs to the basement. Her expression with an open mouth seemed very much like a smile.
The moment Byakuren opened the door, Alfra jumped at her.
"Oh my? Did you perhaps sense my presence?"
Byakuren stirred Alfra's hair in a crumpling manner. Her actions looked quite experienced now compared to the first time.
"Yup! I can already recognize you the moment you stand in front of the door, Byakuren."
Puppy-like sincere eyes without any scheming. Alfra always gazed at Byakuren with eyes full of deep affection.
"Oh? You didn't have this scratch yesterday, right?"
Looking at the bruise on Alfra's upper arm, Byakuren furrowed her eyebrows.
"Hm? I wonder if it's from this afternoon when I sparred with Takashiro-san? It doesn't hurt so it'll be healed by tomorrow!"
"I see…since it's you, there shouldn't be a mark left later….Shall I give you more blood today?"
"Eh?! It's okay, I'm alright~"
Alfra turned red and shook her head.
"Is that so? But you're also doing your best in the training, so I should give you some reward. Is there anything you want?"
"Eh~ it's fine. There's no place to put things anyway."
Alfra's room had undergone a complete transformation within one year. A luxurious yet a lifeless room did a 180° turn and was filled with a large amount of toys that children would like, such as stuffed toys and blocks, glass handicrafts, grimoire with thick binding, small knife coated with magic, given to her to be used eventually, etc etc…
This lack of unity was due to the variety of the「rewards」
"Oh….is that so?"
Alfra pulled the hand of Byakuren, which muttered disappointingly.
"Then, lap pillow! Let me use your lap as a pillow!"
"Fufu, that's fine. Here, put your head down."
Happy days continued. The gentle flow of the time seemed as if it would continue forever.
"Takashiro, is training with weapons not still early?"
Recently, Byakuren was always in a good mood. However, today she seemed to have been concerned about something.
"No no, the one I am using is a wooden sword made from soft material. I have given children's practice sword with dull blade to Alfrsama. It should not be dangerous."
"But Alfra had another big bruise. Can't you go more easy on her?"
"However, if I go even more easy on her, it would not be good as the training."
"But in difference from us, the demons, Alfra is a human…."
Even Takashiro felt dizzy from Byakuren's remark, which would require going back to the matter of teaching Alfra to fight in the first place.
"Madam, please trust me and leave the training entirely to me."
"…Okay. However, try to avoid leaving her with big injuries."
"Also, about the matter of the etiquette, wouldn't Felmar have a negative impact on Alfra, after all?"
"I think that there are no problems regarding that."
"I wonder. I think that humans and demons have a different kind of etiquette and there is some difference in common sense too."
What in the world has happened to my master? Takashiro thought, but being the capable man he was, he answered earnestly.
"Nothing can be done regarding that matter. Human villages are far away and we cannot afford to hire a human tutor."
"Human tutor, huh…that's right, how about kidnapping two or three from the capital? If anything, even I could――
"Madam! Please come to your mind!!!"
The cruel mistress, which Takashiro knew, no longer existed there. Foolishly interrupting his lord's words would be unthinkable in the past.
While reminiscing about her piercing cold pressure and the frozen, unchanged expression, Takashiro thought that the current Byakuren wasn't bad either.
憂さを晴らした according to the dictionary is to “to forget one’s troubles by doing something enjoyable”
力の充足感 pretty much the fullness of the power? sense of sufficiency; feeling of satisfaction
中央 center, middle, heart, metropolis; capital city; central government. I can only assume that they mean center of the demon territory or the capital. No info so far.
身分の上下 the top of the bottom of the ranks. Basically who rules and who is ruled.
いけ好かない nasty; disgusting; disagreeable; creepy
想い人 sweetheart, lover, beloved person. Not necessarily mutual feelings.
黒いもやもやが渦巻く murky feeling swirling is how I translated this
An interesting fact is that Senka’s name(戦禍) and the ravages of war mentioned in the previous chapter are written (and read) in the same way, so this is most likely a wordplay since Senka (the Demon King) is going to bring senka (the war)
P.S point out any mistranslations, typos and grammar so I could fix it