Chapter 32 – The True Enemy
In an unknown, secluded place far away from the royal capital where Schild and his friends were.
The place was so far from human habitation that if a person wandered into it, they would never return alive.
Not because they might get trapped in hostile terrain or be killed by wild animals.
It was because it was literally the Demonic Lands.
And in such a dangerous place, an ant appeared.
It crawled out of the ground like an insect it was, but this was already unusual because it was an ant living in a supposedly hostile place.
And it was huge.
Its physique was as large as a full-grown human.
Its silhouette was completely that of an ant itself, but it had wings on its back that were different from ordinary ants, giving it the appearance of being the “king of ants”.
The human-sized ant looked around as if searching for something.
[Zaria! Hey Zaria! Where are you?]
Screamed the ant-being.
The abnormality of this ant became even more pronounced as they spoke the human language, even though it didn’t have the necessary vocal cords to do it.
[Uwaaa! You surprised me there!]
Before long, another person was standing there in addition to the ant-being.
The cloak that completely covered its head hid its true identity, but it was unrecognizable nevertheless as its entire body silhouette was as straight as a stick.
And because its body was thin, its straight, undulating silhouette looked as if it were a cane stuck in the ground.
Because it was in the first place, a cane-man.
An ant-being and a cane-man.
They seem to have known each other from the beginning, but there is tension in the air between them as if they could kill each other once the other makes a single mistake.
“Good grief. Being called “The First” yet coming later than us. The new leader of the “Four Devas” is a more laid-back Demon than I thought.” If yo u a re a ble to rea d this m ess age, y ou are rea di ng f rom an una uthori zed aggr ega te site. R ead at my Wor dPre s s at stab bing wit h a syr inge. ho me. bl og to su ppo rt me and my tra slati ons.
The ant-being spoke in irony, but the cane man wasn’t affected.
“I’m busy. Unlike you, who have yet to be assigned an invasion mission, I have to infiltrate the cities of the victorious humans, disrupt their organizational structure, and take what we need from them. This is the mission our great father has given me and me alone. So shut up, unemployed.”
The calm reply was met with a scowl from the ant-being’s jaw.
[For your information, Father has given me the important job of preparing the troops for the New Demon Lord’s Army. It is several times more important than your sneaky work! You’ve got to pay attention to that!]
“Yeah yeah. The Army Ants you produce are indeed powerful.”
The cane man did not have the time for bickering and was the first to break off the dispute and switch the subject.
“That said, this “sneaky business” will finally end. The foolish and carefree humans are starting to get suspicious.”
[Oh? And that’s why you ran back?]
“Call it however you want. I’ve already got almost everything that we need to steal anyway. As for the rest, we can let Argome find it out with together with my experiments. But to sum it up, there is nothing left for me to do in that filthy city. Which means…”
[A-are you sure!?]
“Yes. We already have our father’s permission to use our own judgment when deciding when to implement the plan. And since we have received everything of value from the human city that we need to keep, all we have to do is clean up the rest.”
[I see……I see it now……]
The ant-being’s whole body trembled as if in rapture.
“So that is why you have called us, “The Four Devas,” to gather, Zaria! Its war! After twenty years of humiliation since our defeat, the battle to restore our pride will finally begin!”
“Yes, yes. As expected of the “clever” Ante. Though a bit slow on that uptake. Anyway, since you’re proud of your own army, you are itching to go out anytime, yes?”
[Of course! Because of what you said, I’m now all fired up! All fired up, you hear?! Damn! What are the other two doing at such an important meeting? Where’s Argome? Where’s Berzeld? If the “Four Devas” don’t get together for the very first war council, I cannot go back to my nest immediately!]
[I am here.]
Suddenly, a sound, which was the third voice in the area, caught the cane man and the ant-being off guard, and they looked around.
[Not there,] continued the voice. [Look further down. Yes, that’s it.]
When their gazes converged, what they saw was a single entity floating in the air.
It was a round eyeball as if it had been gouged out of a human eye socket.
And for some reason, it floated in the air and showed no sign of falling to the ground.
The pupil within the cornea, which stood out uncomfortably from the pure white outer membrane, was busily closing and opening.
“……Argome, are you intending to use the “terminal” again?”
The cane man mutters in dismay to the floating eyeball.
“In principle, the Four Devas are the only ones to participate in their meetings. That includes their personal bodies. This is just too complacent, no matter how much ability you have.”
[Isn’t this fine? I am the eyes and ears of the Demon Army. My “Hundred Eyes” appear everywhere and witness every event. Therefore, you can say that I exist anywhere in this world.]
“I don’t need your sophistry. Also, don’t you have something to report to me?”
[Oh my. What a good guess. As expected, I cannot outsmart the New Demon Lord Army’s Intelligence Chief.]
Where do the eyeballs come from, and where does the voice come from? It was one of the wonders only this Demon Race would know. Thi s ch ap ter tran sl ation is ma de po ssib le by stab bi ng wi th a syr i nge tr ansla tions. ch eck on ly up- to-da te tra nslat i ons on my Wo rdpr ess sit e.
[Anyway, here is my report. We have newly acquired information from the “terminal” in the humans’ castle. That is, our poor collaborator over there has just been killed.]
“Collaborator? You mean one of your guinea pigs. Isn’t that right, Argome?”
A guffaw that bordered on mockery escaped the cane man.
[Hmm. Royal castle, huh. Is it that Dernonos guy? That’s pathetic. We went into so much trouble just to plant the “eggs” in him to strengthen him, and yet he still went and died. What a waste.]
Ante deliberately sighed.
[But wait. If I’m not mistaken, Dernonos was also the experimental subject for the “Hex of the Gladiator” curse, which we aim to get practical use from studying human royal bloodlines. The assumption was that anyone under that curse should not be killed by anyone other than royalty, right? so how did he die?]
Nevertheless, Dernonos, cursed by this “Hex”, died.
He died by the blade of an ordinary human’s sword.
[Maybe your analysis is incomplete. After all, Zaria is a bit of a dunce in that regard……!]
“Finding flaws is the point of the experiment.”
The cane man says in response to the derision of the ant-being.
“Dernonos is just one of the fronts for my safe activities in the royal capital. Besides, wouldn’t it be more profitable to recycle the scraps after they are no longer needed? Because of that, we discovered a flaw in the “Hex of the Gladiator” curse. That scum was useful to us until the moment of his death. So if I were you, I’d give him a pat on the back? Though I doubt that he still has a back at this point.”
[But if the “Hex of the Gladiator” curse turns out not to be truly invincible, we may be forced to modify some of our strategies. We cannot be too optimistic.]
“True. By the way, who killed Dernonos?”
“You know him. It’s the same guy who killed most of the old-school monsters in the swarm we had months ago.”
The battle that the “Devas” are referring to is the battle to exterminate the monster swarm that took place in the vicinity of the royal capital.
In that battle, which the Oscar family staged to take credit for supposedly, the Cane Man played a dark role behind the scenes by acting as a pawn of the Oscar’s current patriarch.
“The one who is admired as the “Slayer of Forty-Eight”, huh.”
[Yes. His name is Schild. That human being is clearly different from the others. It is fine to dismiss the humans as nothing more than a bunch of scraps, but I think we should be wary of him and focus on him more to…]
The cane man’s sharp voice suddenly boomed at the eyeballs.
“Your role is to gather information. It is my role to make decisions based on the information you gather. I am the one who has been entrusted by Father with this responsibility, being the first of the “Four Devas”. So don’t you dare to cross the line.”