The [Black] Demon Lord has died.
Because of that, my [War] with him was cancelled.
Needless to say, I was pretty upset upon hearing the news.
"This timing can't be just a coincidence."
I wasn't optimistic enough to think that the cancellation was all a matter of luck.
He was a crafty and cautious individual. Even if he was heavily injured, it shouldn't be enough to kill him.
"He's definitely alive. Either that or he has become someone else."
Either way, there was no way he would let me be for long, especially after the shame I put him through. After all, he was as tenacious as a snake.
"It's no use thinking about it. I'll just do what I gotta do."
And what I had to do was to make Avalon and my monsters stronger in earnest. It was plain and unexciting, but it was important regardless.
That being said, the next day was a cause for celebration, so taking a break once in a while wouldn't hurt.
After a long while, I returned home. Not to the carriage near the First Tree, but rather to my estate in the city. Although my stay in the carriage was fun, I had fully recovered so it was no longer necessary to stay there.
At any rate, I changed my clothes and then headed out. I had no one guarding me today. Apparently, Kuina, Rorono, and Aura each had their own things to do.
The place I was headed to was the clock tower recently built in Avalon. Many people had been using it as a meeting place, and today, I was too.
"Hey, you're quite early, Stolas."
"Well, so are you."
Today, I was going on a date with Stolas.
Her magic power and Demon Lord powers had returned to her just in time for my visit to the Axela Kingdom, but she was still in a pretty bad shape back then. As of the moment, however, she was well enough to go back home to her dungeon. In fact, she was going home later in the evening.
When I suggested that we celebrate her recovery, she suggested back that we do it with just the two of us. In other words, she wanted a date. Of course, I granted her request.
Enlil, who was always with her, was left to house-sit today.It might not look it, but he's surprisingly good at reading the mood.
Or so I initially thought until I saw him, Kuina, and Rorono hiding somewhere behind me. Perhaps it was due to her excitement, but it didn't seem like Stolas had noticed him. By the way, he was adorably perched on top of Kuina's head.It's best to pretend I haven't noticed.
If it had been just Kuina, I probably wouldn't have known, but with the addition of the two, it was almost impossible to not notice.Well, at the very least, Enlil seems to be getting along well with the girls.
"Is there something wrong?"
"No, it's nothing. Shall we go? I want to enjoy touring around Avalon as a simple guest today. I guess we can say I'm more excited than you about today's date."
Ever since I used [Divine Revelation], everyone in town recognized who I was. Because of that, I was currently wearing a disguise. Well, it was just a casual clothing and a pair of glasses though.
"I doubt it. I've been looking forward to this date more than you think. Fufu, so, properly escort me, okay?"
"Yeah, leave it to me."
Like that, I grabbed her hand and officially began our date.I have to do my best to entertain such an important friend.
To start things off, we watched a play.
Because it was done by a famous and talented troupe, it was quite good. Originally, troupes like this would stay for only a couple of days in one city and then move on to another. Nowadays though, due to the high population of Avalon and thus the profits it gave, several popular troupes had decided to stay, becoming one of the city's main sources of entertainment.
Furthermore, Avalon also offered them stories and sometimes even screenplay from all over the world. This combined with their profits, made our city the best possible environment for them.
Anyway, the play we saw this time was about a sage that was reincarnated into a slime.
While concealing his true identity, he did his best to watch over and protect his daughters, sometimes to comical effect. The climax scene deeply moved me. I envied the strong bond the sage had with his daughters and wished I had the same with my girls.
Overall, it was a great play.
After watching it, Stolas and I exited.
"That was interesting, wasn't it, Procell? Fufu, how do humans come up with stories like this?"
"There are many of them, so meetings and farewells are a common occurrence. And these stories are drawn from those experiences. At least, I think so."
I respected them for these kinds of things that us Demon Lords and monsters just couldn't come up with.
"Hmm, I guess you of all Demon Lords would know since you're so fascinated with humans. Wait, what's that line for?"
"Let's see. It might be interesting."
It seemed like a line for a food cart.
All kinds of food from all over the world had made its way to Avalon. Stores that offered cheap yet delicious food were numerous too. Given all the options a consumer has, for a store in Avalon to have such a line, it had to be extraordinary in some way or another.
Giving in to our curiosity, Stolas and I fell in line. Thankfully, the transaction speed was good and before we knew it, we were the next ones.
From the sweet scent I could smell, it seemed as though it was a baked sweets store.
"Tasty, tasty frog-shaped cakes, hey ♪ get your tasty, fragrant frog-shaped cakes ♪"
When we approached, the man who seemed like the shopkeeper greeted us with a song.His way of talking seem familiar. Nah, must be my imagination. There's no way that fellow would be here.
"Welcome. What would you like to order, dear customers? Ah! Aaaaaaaa!?"
When I looked closely, the shopkeeper had a surprised face.
More to the point, he had a bipedal frog's surprised face.
Moreover, his was a face I recognized. But then again, I knew just this one humanoid frog.
"What are you doing here in my city, [Viscosity] Demon Lord?"
"Wa-wa-wa-wait. Please don't call me by that name. Hey, can you take care of the rest? I'm going out for a bit."
The frog man, [Viscosity] Demon Lord Ronove, said so to an employee, put some of the frog-shaped cakes his store was selling in a paper bag, and then pushed Stolas and I toward back of his store.
After pushing us to the back of his store, Ronove then gave me the paper bag of frog-shaped cakes.
"Before anything else, I want you to try these, Procell."
"How do I know there's no poison in it?"
"I won't dare do such a reckless thing. If I ever try to aim for you, one way or the other, I won't be able to live in Avalon anymore. Right now, there's no place I can go but here."
While still doubting him, I reached inside the paper bag. The contents were really hot and also fragrant.
The frog-shaped caked he was selling resembled something in my [Memory of the Planet]: a taiyaki
. Only these ones were shaped to resemble a frog instead of a fish.
I took a bite and discovered that the light-brown outer layer held within lots of red bean paste.
Finding it safe enough, I handed one to Stolas as well.
"Delicious, isn't it, Stolas?"
"Yeah. Really. The custard cream in mine is so delicious."
"The nuts mixed in is irresistible, yeah?"
"I sorta see now how it can have such a line."
After eating some of the frog-shaped cakes, I looked toward Ronove.
"Alright, we ate some like you asked. Now, mind telling me why you're in Avalon?"
"…I, well, after our [War] with you, I've been to many towns. I don't have my Demon Lord powers anymore, so I had to frighten and terrorize humans myself. I tried my best, I really did… but I just wasn't strong enough. I've lost count of how many times I almost got myself killed… And then, I remembered you, Procell, and what you said… that you make humans happy instead of frightening them. So, I thought I'd tried it myself. That way, I could get emotions with less risks of being killed."
Ronove replied so, shyly and in bits and pieces.
If one's crystal was broken, it meant they could no longer make medals and use DP. Which in turn meant they could no longer make monsters to assist them.
The hardships Ronove went through certainly weren't average, to say the least.
"I tried all sorts of things, you know. But the best thing I did was cooking. Humans enjoyed my cooking, and I was able to enjoy their emotions. So, I did my best to cook the most delicious food I could every time. But whichever I town I go, my disguise as a human gets found out eventually and I get attacked for looking like a frog."
It was a believable tale. After all, in most human towns, demi-humans were being persecuted for just being demi-humans. Needless to say, a large humanoid frog would cause an even more intense reaction.
"Back then, I even thought of killing myself, but then, I heard of city where demi-humans aren't being discriminated against. So, I wondered if that place would accept even me."
Avalon was a city where humans and demi-humans coexisted peacefully. Here, Ronove's outer appearance wouldn't have mattered.
"I was surprised when I got here. Everyone accepted me even though I didn't put on any disguise. Business was great too. Everyone happily bought my sweets and found it delicious. The happier they are, the better emotions I enjoyed. So, I tried harder and harder until I came up with the frog-shaped cakes. Say, Procell, you liked the cakes, right? Won't you at least consider letting me stay here in your city? Please!"
Before answering, I looked at Stolas. The small smile on her face suggested she felt the same as I did.
"Do as you like. Until you get another crystal, I don't mind if you stay here in Avalon. All are welcome here, so long as they don't cause trouble. Be they human, demi-human, or monster, they are accepted here. Demon Lords are no exception."
It was clear to me that he didn't have any ill will or anything like that toward me or my city, so even though he was a Demon Lord, there was no need to chase him away.
Above all, his frog-shaped cakes were delicious.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"There's no need for thanks. Your frog-shaped cakes are beneficial to Avalon, so I'm just using those in my favor. Also, I don't mind if you consume some of the happiness that you've induced, but since this is my dungeon, I think it's fair that I have some of it too."
The more wonderful attractions my city had, the better.
"Yes, deal, deal! Oh, thank you, really, Procell! I promise, once I get another crystal and become a proper Demon Lord again, I'll repay you for this kindness. I promise!"
"I'll look forward to that, but no pressure. Well, shall we go, Stolas?"
"Yeah, okay… Ronove, your frog-shaped cake was really delicious."
Before leaving, Stolas praised Ronove. Upon hearing it though, his frog face turned incredibly red.
"Procell, Stolas, come again! I'm making the cakes better and better. The next time you try it, you'll love it even more!"
He said so as he was waving us goodbye.The frog-shaped cakes are gonna be improved?
"Let's come here again sometime, Stolas."
"Yes, let's. When we get hungry on our next date."
Stolas looked me in the eye, replied so, and then smiled.
There was still time left, so we decided to tour Avalon some more.
And then, all of a sudden, it was already evening. Touring around it, I remarked that I built a truly charming city.
Thankfully, Stolas seemed to have enjoyed the city as well.
That being said, it was now time to end our date.
When we exited the city's gate, someone was already there to pick her up. Atop a high-ranking griffon was Rozelitte, Stolas' angel-type [Monster of the Covenant].
"We meet again, Procell"
Also, there was a middle-aged looking man: [Dragon] Demon Lord Astaroth.
"I didn't expect we'd meet again so soon though."
"I came here today to talk with you two, Stolas and Procell. It had to be both of you at the same time or else there would be no meaning. So, forgive me for this sudden visit."
With a face that seemed like he had chewed on something sour, the [Dragon] Demon Lord uttered so.
"Stolas, from here on, I forbid you to go near Procell."
"Wha-what are you saying, Astaroth-sama? Do you really expect me to follow that?"
Both Stolas and I were flustered at what he said. I would rather he matched the two of us than separate us.
"I imagined you would say that… it's fine to not follow what I said, Stolas, but you need to be prepared. Right now, young Demon Lords are forming factions so that they could crush Procell. And, once you've both become independent and not anymore protected by special rules, he will be hunted down full force. He simply stands out too much. It can't be helped that the young Demon Lords are scared of him."
After he said so, I understood why he forbade Stolas from coming near me. If she was perceived as my ally, those against me would target her too.
"…I see. Then, I just got to be part of Procell's faction, don't I? As his close friend, I can't turn my eyes away from those vicious fellows."
Stolas declared so without a hint of hesitation.
In response, the [Dragon] Demon Lord placed a hand on her shoulder and then looked her intimidatingly straight in eyes.
"Listen to me, Stolas. When you become independent, I would no longer be around. I would no longer be able to protect you. Even so, do you still think it wise to intertwine your fate with his?"
"Yes. A Demon Lord who has so little pride that they would abandon a close friend for only this much could never become the strongest. That is what I learned from you, Astaroth-sama."
That answer astonished him and made him laugh a thunderous laugh.
"That's my daughter, alright! Hahaha. Very well, you do what you want to do."
Satisfied with her answer, he then turned to me.
"Procell, I entrust Stolas to you. Take care of her after I'm gone."
"…Yes, I won't let harm befall her after believing in me so much."
"That's not really what I meant, but, oh well, that'll do. Also, a word of advice. You might be doing well so far, but there is a limit to fighting alone. If your enemies are making a faction, you should too."
"Yes, I intend to do so."
I had thought about it before.
Once the special rules protecting new Demon Lords were gone, it would be hard for me to continue alone.
Along with making Avalon strong, I needed to gather allies.
"That said, the faction of young Demon Lords right now are… strangely strong."
The image of the [Black] Demon Lord then suddenly came to my mind.
It was nothing more than a theory, but it was possible that in order to not only escape from me but also prolong his life and boost his war potential, he had dyed a promising Demon Lord's heart black and possessed them.
Following that theory, in order to assure my demise, he had made an anti-Procell faction. And once the rules protecting me was gone, like the [Dragon] Demon Lord feared, the younger Demon Lords he had trained and guided would crush me with their numbers.If it's that guy, it's definitely possible.
"Thank you for the advice. I'll look into various things."
"Good, you do that. As for me, I'll do my best to bequeath Stolas as much things as possible in the time I have left."
After saying so, the [Dragon] Demon Lord rode on one of his subordinates and left.
The thing he said to us was a good piece of information. Once again, I was indebted to him. I planned on repaying that debt before he was gone.
"What a mess we've gotten ourselves into, huh, Procell."
"Yeah… but thank you for joining me in this mess."
I did not give her an apology because I knew that wasn't what she wanted. Instead, I conveyed my feelings of gratitude as her close friend.
It was a fairly unpleasant situation to be in, but it wasn't all bad. After all, it was hard to imagine that they would risk punishment for breaking the rules and attack me in half a year—the time it would take for me to no longer be a new Demon Lord. I would have plenty of time to get stronger.
"Well, things are about to get more hectic now."
TL note: I screwed up on the last chapter. Procell didn’t refer to Marcho as a close friend. That was entirely me during edit. Sorry. Every instance of “close friend” in this chapter though is as seen in the raws.
Also, the slime story in this chapter most likely is a reference to Tsukiyo Rui-sensei’s other work, . I don’t know really know the story of that one so if the description found in this chapter is off, do let me know.