Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 3 Chapter 21: Dragon-san Investigates the Count
Being addressed like that, the demon looks in our direction while being wary of the pointy sword pressing against his throat.
「I thought that might be the case, but…… Are you both perhaps the ones who have been collecting the artificial magic stones all over the capital? You guys surely have your work cut out for you.」
His voice turns surprisingly low, and his aura was making his skin turn red in color.
I couldn’t tell if he figured out my identity because of my disguise, but he was staring at me so much! This was what I wanted to avoid, it’s so embarrassing!
Then I felt that the temperature around Ligurila suddenly began to drop.
「I think that you’re not exactly aware of your current situation, aren’t you? I’m the one asking questions here, and you are going to answer them all!」
「T, that’s right. You there, what happened to the real Count Avar? For me, it doesn’t look like you’re wearing his skin as a disguise.」
Hearing my question the demon’s face tensed, and Ligurila’s stare grew so cold that it might have actually been an absolute zero.
「His consciousness is asleep as I took over his body. This person is currently my vessel. …… Now, answer me this in return: are you the ones who were constantly interfering with my plans? If so, I would like you to stop and leave this place at once.」
「Ara, the way you said it was so nice and charming that I almost want to do exactly what you want. And that is why I’m not going to do it. Say, Lava.」
Ligurila casts me a weird look, and I could see her demonic nature starting to reflect in her eyes.
So in order to not having to look into those eyes of hers, I walked to Lishella to see if she was alright, since she was now laying on the floor.
「You are the one who created the artificial magic stone and spread it throughout Hesat. You probably wanted to increase the monster population around here and cause the imbalance to the leylines, and to that end you were using the monster nuclei as catalysts. Tell me why, demon?」
「You know about the leylines and the monster nuclei…… Are you really humans?」
I walked right to the incapacitated demon and removed my mask from my face.
Then, his face was painted with a mixture of surprise and fear.
「I see, now it all makes sense. I have heard the rumors about a foolish dragon who delights itself with mingling with the human world. This means that you are the Black Flame Dragon, and you must be a demon as well. Hahaha…… What a strange combination the two of you are.」
Seeing as the demon let out a dry laugh and was smiling faced with such a shocking revelation, Ligurila began to weave a spell into the blade of her sword.
「Fine, if you don’t want to answer me, I know more than one way of making you talk. Which option you choose?」
「No, Ligurila, you cannot do that. That would go against Lishella’s wish.」
「I am well aware of that, but I’m done playing around. That’s why I put everyone to sleep, including the girl.」
I suspected as much, but it turns out it was really Ligurila’s work after all.
After agonizing over Ligurila’s words for a moment, I turn towards the demon again.
Now I was certain of it. This demon was the same demon that came to Lishella. But, what is this familiar magic aura coming from the demon?
Wait, this feeling …. Impossible!
「As Lishella’s contractor, how is it possible for you to split your own magical core and distributing it all over the place?」
The demon bit on his lip and turned his gaze away, but his silence only served to confirm my suspicions.
The rest was easy for me to guess.
The magic particles floating about the enchanted nobles were the same as the ones making the cores of the artificial magic stones. That being said, they were all exactly the same as the magic waves of the demon that was right in front of us.
Lishella must have felt that, too, so it was only natural to assume that Count Avar was in fact her contractor, since the demon was inside of his body all along.
If it was the same demon, by possessing Avar he would no longer have to be afraid of being hunted, and he could scheme to manipulate the leylines however he wanted.
That explanation was the most plausible one, but there was still lots of unknowns and doubts about this whole affair.
Certainly, unless they are completely obliterated, the demons could preserve their own existence even in the most pitiful state imaginable.
However, cutting his own magical core into pieces was more or less similar to self-mutilation, and it was not something anyone wished to do, unless they were absolutely sure that it would be worth it.
Moreover, it would take another massive effort to extract the demonic nuclei and assimilate them within the stones, since all of them would possess the same magical traits of the demon who was involved in the process.
I don’t want to be rude, but from my perspective, this demon was doing something completely stupid and reckless, and simply made no sense.
Ligurila once said, cutting your own core was not painful, but rather very much uncomfortable.
In conclusion, I just couldn’t understand why would the demon want to hurt himself like that.
As I kept on staring at him, the demon slowly shook his head and answered.
「…… No real reason. It was only necessary to fulfil the contract.」
「Well now, that a rather harsh contract, isn’t it? A condition that cannot be fulfilled without having to hurt yourself.」
Ligurila mocks the demon, but he retorts in a voice filled with arrogance.
「The moment I saw you right next to Lishella I have begun to manipulate the other nobles here by means of their magic stones. I wanted to restrain you, but sadly my area of expertise is mental manipulation. I know how to do it and how to protect myself from it.」
So that was probably what caused such a huge magic outburst. The demon saw Ligurila, and sent other guests after her as his minions.
However, it seems that Ligurila was unaffected by the demon’s magic, and was able to dispatch all of the attackers without much of problem.
The demon looked up at Ligurila with mixture of both envy and jealousy.
「I want to be as powerful as you are. If only I could take control of that person a little bit sooner.」
He was probably talking about Count Avar.
I could sense that he was jealous of Ligurila’s power, and was overcome with frustration more than anything else.
「So, you wanted to control the nobility by replacing their minds with the nuclei from the magic stones, right?」
At that moment, the demon turns toward Lishella.
He looked at her sleeping face, and opened his mouth.
「That’s what I wanted. To create people who would be able to hear her. That way, no one would ignore her anymore.」
「I can break people’s mind with ease, but sadly, I am unable to understand them. The concept of a family is too complicated for me. So I did the only thing I really knew how to do.」
Said the demon awkwardly, and I thought there was something really sad but also breathtaking in his words right now.
「So you possessed Count Avar, broke your own core to tiny pieces, and distributed them amongst the nobles in order to create a perfect society? You did all of that just for Lishella?」
「That’s not it. I did it for some tasty magic.」
The demon denied our words and continued on.
「This girl is extremely weak and fragile. Her own magic is going to kill her at some point in time. But since it is a good magic, it would be such a waste to let it disappear once she’s dead, when I can devour it all before she dies.」
「If it was so important for you, why not simply rip her soul out of her and then put it in a glass casing, so you could enjoy it for all eternity?」
As Ligurila smiled, the demon’s face distorted.
「If I did just that, she wouldn’t make it.」
The demon said that with regret in his voice, to which Ligurila was speechless.
By placing a part of his own core inside of another creature, the demon could create a familiar that would have to obey his every order.
It was a stroke of genius, but it had one critical downside: to force the absolute obedience onto another creature, a tremendous amounts of magical power were needed, and even powerful demons were unable to do that to more than a handful of familiars.
The physical abilities of everyone who received a part of the demon would improve, making them a kind of pseudo-demons, and they would live for as long as their creator was still alive as well.
One could even go as far as saying that a familiar produced in this way could be called a ‘friend’.
However, there are also risks involved. If the vessels were unable to fully accept the magic they were given, they would wither away and die. No, even more than that.
The proficiency with magic was probably of no importance here, but it was impossible for Lishella to accept such a huge portion of magic and survive the process.
「So, even though I was trying to create my own society, its citizens would end up being as foolish as I am. But still, since they weren’t going to do it, I had to protect this girl. If I didn’t, who would!?」
Are there really demons like that out there, capable of so much empathy towards humans?
The demon’s words cause me to fall deep into thought.
The mind control magic is a difficult one to use. Even those who mastered it were severely limited as to how they could use it.
He said so himself: his mind control was fairly weak, and so he needed another medium to strengthen its effects.
But when you put all of the nuclei of his together, his mind control powers could possibly on par with those of Ligurila.
But right now he was nothing more but a mid-tier demon when it comes to sheer power.
So in order to fulfil his ambition he had to weaken himself.
By doing that, his mind control powers became weaker as well.
And even though he knew what would that entail, he still went and did it without thinking.
What’s more, he did all of that not for himself, but for a sickly girl of whom he thought nothing more as food.
「…… What foolishness.」
Ligurila’s expression was filled with sorrow as she muttered those words.
And it so happened that those words overlapped with my own thoughts.
People and demons had different lifespans, different values and were fundamentally different.
But even Ligurila was overcome with anguish and grief when she thought that she had lost Senjiro.
And even though the two of them managed to be reunited, it goes to show that in some fields demons were not all that different from humans.
I also understood how Ligurila felt, because I also went through a similar experience.
It was so stupid and so sad.
Even more so, because his intentions were so pure and so genuine.
Although Lishella didn’t wished for this, he was still trying to make it happen, but during the process he went in a completely different direction as he failed to understand it.
We fell silent, and then the demon said to Ligurila with a stern face.
「Hey, missy. Those humans are mine. Don’t you dare lay your hands on them.」
「…… Hmph. I’m not so hungry as to steal food from others.」
Before long, Ligurila withdrew her sword from the demon’s throat and removed her legs from him.
The demon got up while looking at us in surprise.
「What are you doing, dragon? If you want to punish me, then do it already!」
I didn’t know what to say. I just watched him.
「I am the one who is responsible for this whole artificial magic stones mess, although not directly. Surely you cannot overlook someone who interfered with the circulation of magic to such an extent?」
It was exactly as the demon said.
As the dragon responsible for the correct circulation of magic, I couldn’t possibly pardon his transgressions. And besides, he still needed to tell us the exact location of the artificial magic stone fabric.
However, his words made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
「Wait a minute. What do you mean, ‘not directly’?」
The demon started to say something, but then there was a sudden surge of magical power behind him.
When I turn towards that place, the foul winds brushed against my skin.
For a moment out there I saw a figure brandishing a huge sword, and in the next moment Ligurila was blown away with a heavy metallic sound.
Her thin body dances like leaf in the air before eventually hitting hard against the wall.
I was shocked, but when the figure lounged itself at me, I reflexively protected myself with a spell.
A magical barrier was erected right in front of me, but the sword managed to smash it to pieces, and I was knocked back several meters away.
Even though I was not sent flying like Ligurila, I could feel something unpleasant going on with my arms.
It wasn’t just a physical attack. There was something else to it.
While I was trying to get my bearing and take a look at the newly arrived party, someone walked into the ballroom right through the front door.
It was a young man, probably in his twenties, walking with a cheerful, casual step.
I somehow guessed that he was a male, but his physique was rather feminine.
But instead of a staff, he was carrying a lute on his back, and was giving a vibe of an artist or performer.
「That’s our Bastard for you, what a huge hit!」
The young man walks toward us, and with each step of his the atmosphere seemed to change to more festive and merry, as he swiftly managed to avoid the bodies that were laying on the floor.
He then joined the man holding a huge two-handed sword, who I was inclined to believed was named Bastard. He, on the other hand, seemed annoyed by the youth’s appearance.
「Lute, as oblivious to the mood as always. You should learn to be more dramatic.」
「Eeehh, now that’s just mean. –––– Oh well, but what a surprise we have here.」
The young man, Lute, responded to his companion in an over exaggerated manner, and then he turned towards me with a smile on his face.
「What is a dragon doing in a place such as this?」
Even though it was a bright smile, I could feel that there were anger, hatred and malice hiding right beneath it.
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