I awoke in a plain, empty room.
“Saying that I ‘don’t recognize the ceiling’ is becoming a tradition for me.”
I had been laid out on a bed.
So apparently I was still alive.
I slowly tried to move my right arm. It moved fine.
Then I tried my hands and legs. No problem.
I took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
There was a dull pain in my stomach.
“…That’s where I was punched.”
It hurt every time I breathed.
That hag. She really tried to kill me.
I hadn’t been able to move after the roar.
The only thing that had saved me was using the mana I had stored in my legs. Had I not been able to jump then, all of the mana would have been sucked out of my body and I would have died.
With people like me who strengthened their bodies, losing mana meant losing your toughness.
I would not have been able to survive the attack.
After escaping it, I faced her with the Deepsea Dragon sword and hexagonal club. I never backed down after being attacked. However, it was no use.
I knew that I couldn’t beat her.
And though I went with everything I had, I could tell that Tralzard was still holding back.
Has she gone all out, there wouldn’t have even been a piece of me left after I was annihilated.
That being said, my attacks were not enough to deal a fatal blow.
“In other words, defeat was assured if I went up against a Demon King.”
That was the power of a Demon King. I couldn’t think of a way to beat her.
I got up from the bed and stood on both feet.
While I was glad to be alive, I was also angry at how much I had been beaten.
My mana had also decreased quite a lot, but it was nothing a few meals couldn’t fix.
More importantly, I wanted to know where I was.
“…It must be inside of this castle.”
I went out into the hallway, but didn’t recognize anything. But it wasn’t very big.
I hadn’t seen this hallway on my way to the drawing room or audience hall.
After walking through the hallway, I came upon a staircase. Of course, I climbed it.
There was another flight of steps on the upper floor.
“I guess I’ll keep climbing then.”
While I assumed that I was in the castle, I didn’t see anyone while going up the stairs.
I thought it was strange, but as I continued to walk, someone finally came into view.
I called as I approached them. It was a Sand Armor.
They looked a lot like Sand Golems.
But while it was difficult to communicate with Golems, Sand Armors were a lot like us.
“Are you new here?”
What a strange question.
“New? What do you mean?”
“Do you even know where you are?”
“Yeah. I was nearly killed during an audience with the Demon King. I fought back, but ended up losing consciousness. And when I came to, I was here. So, where am I?”
I gave a simple explanation, but something told me it was a situation where I could hardly complain if they arrested me on the spot.
The Sand Armor crossed his arms and seemed to be thinking.
“…I don’t really understand, but…it must be that. It is surely on the Demon King’s order that you are here. I suppose that I can tell you then.”
“Huh? Is this place a secret?”
“You are within the castle grounds. This is the building on the farthest edge. Most call it the ‘War Council Tower.’”
“War Council Tower? That sounds very important.”
That explains why there were so many stairs. This was a tower.
“Important? This place is a decoy. It’s not important at all.”
Now it was my turn to fold my arms and think.
Was it really necessary to have a fake ‘war council tower’?
And if there was a fake one, then there should be a real one too.
The real war council…strategy?
“Is this to protect the tactician? I think it was something like Seitry the Nanakei.”
“Aye, that is right. So you do know. This tower is here to protect…well, that’s what people think.”
“And so why am I here?”
“As if I’d know. In any case, you will need Her Majesty’s permission in order to leave.”
“…What the hell.”
Now I knew why the Sand Armor man thought I was new here.
You couldn’t enter this place without permission.
And once you were inside, you needed permission to leave…was I being imprisoned?
“It’s a familiar ceiling now.”
Three days had now passed since I was placed in the decoy ‘War Council Tower.’
I found out that the Sand Armor’s name was Yorba.
There were also four others living in the tower.
So I was the sixth person, but that didn’t really matter.
While the building was surrounded by walls, I would probably be able to escape. However…
“If you run, they will chase you.”
That was enough to make me pause.
I could fight if they chased me, but if the Demon King or someone close came, then there would be nothing that I could do.
And so I decided to wait here quietly.
There was someone who came to bring me food, and so I tried asking questions. But it was all in vain.
They said they didn’t know, or wouldn’t say if they did.
From what I heard from Yorba, the Demon King was supposed to come to this tower in order to receive strategies from the tactician.
So if someone was trying to learn about the tactician, they would hear rumors of this place.
And since the Demon King would occasionally visit it in secret, this rumor would seem very credible.
In fact, Yorba did not know how the Demon King was actually receiving strategies from the tactician.
“Seitry is supposed to be living on the top floor. However, no one lives up there. We just go up there to drink sometimes.”
Yorba and the others were supposed to be Seitry’s bodyguards. And for some reason, they thought I was the new guy.
“Has anyone ever attacked this place?”
“They have. It’s usually just one every few years. Demon King Legard’s men never seem to get bored of targeting this place.”
Yorba and the other guards were all very strong.
And so they had no trouble crushing any would-be intruders.
Apparently, Seitry’s strategies had resulted in many bitter defeats for Demon King Legard, and so the assassination efforts were quite serious.
But they had all failed.
And the reason had to do with the structure of the building.
Going down the proper route could take a long time, but those who knew the building well were able to take multiple shortcuts.
Because of this, it was easy to ambush enemies and launch pincer attacks.
“This tower is very well made.”
“It was all the tactician’s idea. Same with the army composition. The way they are chosen, trained, formations that fit each race, it’s all prepared and adjusted by the tactician.”
“Even the selection and training, eh?”
Now that I thought about it, there was something very organized about their army, which was unusual in the Demon World.
It was no wonder this tactician was so valuable.
Their contribution to the country could not be measured.
“Can you understand now why they have to hide?”
“Aye, I can.”
Their existence greatly affected the strength of a country.
Even more so because the Demon World was filled with meat heads.
It made sense that they wanted to protect their own tactician while killing the enemy’s.
They were the key to winning a war.
Like this, I spent another two days in the tower.
The wounds I received from Tralzard healed, and I was starting to seriously wonder what I should do. That’s when the change came.
I heard that the Demon King would come here.
“Finally. I will be able to ask why I am here. And if it’s a bad reason, I’ll bash her in the face.”
I was still holding a grudge for that near-death experience.
Still, what excuse would she give me?
And so it was with great impatience that I waited for the Demon King’s arrival.