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Chapter 53: The Sage Bears the Burden of His Sins as Demon Lord
“Gosh, I was about to die then and there! I even envisioned Hell’s gate before my eyes. If Demon Lord-sama didn’t help, I wouldn’t have managed to come back to life.”
Grom’s praise echoed across the audience room.
The expression “coming back to life” seemed out of place for someone like Grom, but I didn’t point it out.
It was fine if he was satisfied with that.
Grom had been like this for two days now.
After he recovered from his near-death state, he had been talking about my achievement all the time like a bard would do.
What came out of his mouth was greatly exaggerated, to the extent that I could only think he was describing a totally different person.
I left it alone this whole time since I thought he would eventually settle down, but it seemed to have turned worse over time instead.
During my absence, it seemed he had spread news about my battle against Saint Makia all around the capital.
However, since Grom was transferred back to the capital during the early phase of battle, he shouldn’t have been able to witness the battle.
While there were short reports from executives, there wasn’t enough detail to make out for third parties.
It seemed Grom supplemented the missing parts with his own imagination.
I intended to warn him if it sounded too fictitious, yet somehow, the crux matched with what had actually happened.
Because of that I was unable to deny it, so it ended up becoming a silent acquiescence instead.
Well, it wasn’t like there was any real harm involved.
If anything, it just added a bit to my embarrassment.
If this could function as entertainment for my subordinates, it was a cheap price to pay.
In addition, those stories also granted them a sense of security.
The tale of the Demon Lord who managed to overcome the Saint was perfect to raise morale.
This kind of worry could only arise because Grom didn’t perish to begin with.
I was really glad I managed to rescue him.
If things had played out a bit differently, he might not have survived.
Despite Grom’s excessive praise, I was happy to see him live.
It had already been five days since the battle against the Holy Scepter Army.
The Demon Lord’s Army suffered considerable damage.
It was practically the first defeat we ever faced.
While I had managed to turn over the battle itself, the fact remained that the Demon Lord’s Army had no choice but to retreat before the power of the Saint.
There were casualties not only amongst the undead, but also from my demon and elven subordinates.
The funerals had already taken place.
There were those who mourned for their close ones, those who prepared for the next battle, and those who decided to move frontline from backline support; there seemed to be people who had changed their mind.
Of course, I wasn’t an exception.
The mistake caused by my wrong judgment had created a lot of damage.
Had I noticed something was wrong earlier, there might have been dead people whom I could have saved otherwise.
We planned to strengthen our channel of communication from now on.
If I could immediately recognize the situation, I could reduce the damage on the Demon Lord’s Army as much as possible.
What had already happened wouldn’t change.
So I had no choice but to reflect on the mistakes that happened and utilize that knowledge to do better next time.
However, it was not exactly true to say that the capital was filled only with sadness.
Everyone was trying to move forward.
Everyone knew this wasn’t the place to stop.
The Demon Lord’s Army was looking towards the future.
I was relieved to know that.
“Commander, I’m entering.”
The door was knocked and Henry entered.
The wound he suffered during the battle against the Holy Scepter Army had already healed.
Instead of recuperating, Henry had retrained himself because of the regret of having faced defeat.
“Did something happen?”
“There’s something I want you to see. Hey, come in.”
Henry beckoned me outside the room.
The one who entered accordingly was Doldar in a vermillion full-body armor.
“Neck… My neck, return it…”
“Hahaha, your neck is properly attached here.”
Henry tapped on the head of the moaning Doldar.
The momentum caused the neck to fall off and roll on the floor.
Henry let out a bitter smile, then picked up the dropped head and pushed it back to its original spot.
“The joint is still fragile. As expected, we will have to ask the blacksmith to fix it.”
“Henry… What does this mean?”
I held my head on the throne.
I felt a slight headache.
Meanwhile, Henry responded as usual.
“Ah, you should know Doldar.”
“I didn’t ask that. What I asked about is Doldar’s head.”
I pointed it with my finger.
Doldar’s neck was no longer that of a human.
It became that of an old wolf with silver fur.
His eyes shone blue.
The colour seemed to match as if accepting it as Doldar’s neck.
Henry put his hand on the old wolf’s head.
“You mean this? Since it kept asking for a neck, I prepared a stuffed neck for it.”
“Did you make it yourself?”
It should’ve taken some time to make such a thing.
It was hard to think that it was made when Doldar joined the Demon Lord’s Army.
When I asked, Henry shook his head.
“No, I borrowed it from a noble’s mansion. There are variations of it, so you can change it according to your mood. Hey, don’t you feel happy about that?”
“This, is… not my, neck…”
“Look, he seems happy.”
Henry laughed proudly.
Far from being happy, he seemed dissatisfied about it though. Did Henry just pretend to not notice that?
However, there was no sign that Doldar would rampage.
He quietly stood beside Henry.
Now that I think about it, they were also together during the banquet.
He seemed attached to him despite what he said.
After a light chat, Henry left the audience room with Doldar.
He only wanted to show off Doldar’s neck, it seemed.
After seeing them off, Grom coughed for a bit.
“Regarding them, err… will they be alright?”
“It’s fine since they didn’t cause actual harm. Just leave them alone.”
“I, I understand.”
It didn’t look like they acted out of malice.
So it was best to just leave them alone.
It didn’t matter unless they actually cut off the neck of a subordinate as a replacement.
“Demon Lord-sama, you have a visitor~“
Luciana entered with a cheerful voice.
The Elf chieftain Logan also came along with her.
Logan approached the throne.
“It’s been a long time. How are you doing? I heard you defeated the Saint.”
“I’m fine. How about you?”
“No problems. I’m living a life without any inconvenience, after all. This is also thanks to you. I appreciate it.”
Logan bowed his head.
I quickly gestured with my hand.
“Raise your head. I’m not in a position to be grateful for.”
“I see. So you’d prefer if I kneeled on one knee before you? It is a proper stature as a slave.”
Logan put a knee on the floor.
There was a faint smile on his lips.
It was a subtle change one wouldn’t notice without a close relationship, but I could tell.
So I asked to confirm it.
“…Was that supposed to be a joke?”
Logan stood up as he answered.
I was surprised since he wasn’t someone who joked around.
In the first place, it was hard to judge whether he was joking or not.
Even if it was just a word for now, Logan might actually do it after all.
“Eh… what, did you just say…?”
“Don’t make me say it twice. I told you Demon Lord-sama already promised to eat with me tonight! There’s no chance for you to get involved!”
Luciana and Grom were arguing.
Contrary to the content of what they were arguing about, the atmosphere felt tense between them.
Luciana, who was upset for some reason, tried to refute.
“Bu, but, since Demon Lord-sama is kind, he might give priority to me—“
“Fool, are you not aware of the meaning of the order of things! Obviously the one who was promised first would get the priority. Oh succubus, you lost to me this time!”
Luciana screamed at Grom’s triumphant declaration.
What the hell were they doing?
Even I wasn’t sure about what they were doing.
By the way, the promise of the meal was about verifying the sense of taste of an undead.
Neither I nor Grom were able to eat.
I couldn’t feel the sense of taste.
Therefore, the purpose was to somehow enable the sense of taste.
For now, spicy food was the dominant choice.
It was about using spiciness not to stimulate taste, but to stimulate a sense of pain.
I had called Grom tonight to try that.
He supplemented the explanation and proudly declared it to Luciana.
“As usual, your subordinates sure are noisy. It feels lively.”
I apologized to Logan for his dismay.
It made me feel embarrassed once he pointed it out.
However, it wasn’t like those two hated each other.
During the battle against the Holy Scepter Army, Luciana was in charge of treating the interception army who had transferred there.
Obviously Grom was also included amongst them.
She had devotedly saved those crumbling lives.
As a result, nobody who was transferred there lost their lives.
One could say that it was all her contribution.
“Anyway, I’m glad to see you’re in good shape. Please tell me if you need anything. I’ll help you to the best of my abilities.”
“That would help a lot. I’ll rely on you.”
Logan tapped on my shoulder and left.
He must have had other things to do in the capital.
Considering his title as the chieftain, he sure was busy.
It became more obvious as he became involved with the Demon Lord’s Army.
Perhaps he used what little time he could make off, to greet me.
Perhaps he was concerned when he heard about the battle against the Holy Scepter Army.
He looked unfriendly at a glance, but he still thought of his friend deep down.
I was grateful for his kindness.
“Then I shall propose a meal with Demon Lord-sama! I’ll have it together with him from early morning tomorrow until late at night!”
“Wha?! Taking consecutive times is cheating! At least alternate it with me.”
Luciana and Grom were still quarreling.
I had a feeling that it would keep escalating.
It would stop if I interfered, but it felt too troublesome so I wouldn’t.
Let’s just say we’re lucky enough to have the leisure to quarrel.
After killing the hero, I destroyed the empire and led the Saint to her death.
The fight against the Holy Scepter Army would still continue.
The nation which lost its Saint and was shamed upon because of it would surely think about retaliation.
I had no idea when this blood-thirsty war would come to an end.
It would take a long time until stalemate could be reached.
For the time being, the slaughtering of nations still needed to be continued.
I wanted to spread peace by reducing war amongst humans.
There was a contradiction since the method I did so through was slaughter.
However, I would bear the burden and proceed.
The evil called by me would continue to reign in this world.
If humanity rejected it, I would destroy all resistance.
That was my atonement for the most sinful mission that I carried.
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