I wanted to visit Count Ismalia’s lands with as few people as possible.
There were two reasons for this. The first was that if we went with too many people, it could make our hosts anxious.
At least on the surface, this was someone who we were trying to make peace with, and it would be bad to make him cautious. And so I wanted to go with a minimum amount of attendants.
I gathered my officers together and asked them if they wanted to come, and everyone in the meeting room raised their hand.
Even the slimes. They could shape their body freely, and they created a jiggly appendage that rose into the air.
I realized that asking for volunteers would not do, and so I started by naming those who I could not take with me.
“First, you must stay here, Eve.”
Upon hearing this, Eve protested immediately.
“And why must I stay here?”
“This journey will involve some danger. Well, there will be nothing but danger.”
“Is that because Count Ismalia has a black heart?”
“I think so. Yes. There is no doubt that I will be arrested if I go there.”
“And yet you’re still going, master.”
“Aye, you might think it foolish, but I see it as an opportunity.”
And then I told them what I was planning.
“Count Ismalia will arrest me. And he will demand that I forfeit some of my lands in exchange for my freedom. Yes. He will likely want Eligos’s old castle.”
“In exchange for you, master, we might have to give up all of your lands.”
“You exaggerate my worth. But the army will crumble without me. And so these conditions will have to be met.”
However, I said before continuing.
“On the other hand, tricking someone during a negotiation and arresting them is quite the vile act. It would give me more than enough reason to invade his lands.”
“Normally, invading the human territories would cause a great commotion among the human countries.”
Gottlieb the dwarf explained.
“Yes. They fear demons. And it will bring them closer together. However, if Ismalia were to do something so immoral, then they would not be able to justify the sending of their troops in retaliation.”
“I see. That is a good plan.”
Gottlieb said as he stroked his beard. And then he continued.
“If you have thought that far ahead, I suppose you also have a way of escaping after the count throws you into his dungeon?”
“Of course, I have thought of that. And that’s why I must choose the right people to accompany me.”
I declared, and we returned to the subject at hand.
“I cannot take Eve to Ismalia’s lands because I will likely be thrown into prison. And so I don’t want to take any women.”
Eve was silent. She was a smart maid, and understood what I meant.
However, Jeanne was not like Eve.
And what she next did make sense.
“It’s far too late to treat me like some weak lady. I am the shield and sword of the Demon King. I’ve fought at the frontlines, every single time.”
Indeed, she had fought in every battle, and so I gave her permission to accompany me.
“You’re very right, Jeanne. And so you will come with me.”
She smiled like a sunflower.
Eve looked a little annoyed by this, but she quickly regained her calm and asked who else I was taking. I expected nothing less from my secretary.
“I think that I will have Toshizou come with me.”
“Ah, a wise decision, master.”
He said while scratching his beard. That was very much like him.
“If we’re going in small numbers, I want to take people who are worth a thousand men. After all, I’ll need your help once we escape from the prison.”
“We’ll need the help of a ninja in order to escape. Fuma Kotaro and Hanzo the Kobold. I’ll be counting on you two.”
When I looked to the seats where the two of them had been sitting, I saw that only Hanzo was there now.
“He has already gone on ahead in order to gather information.”
“A true model ninja. It’s comforting to know that he’ll be with us.”
I said, and then Hanzo was the next to disappear. Yes, they were very reliable.
“We should have no trouble escaping if they are with us. The problem is what we do after that.”
“I could send soldiers to hide near the border with Ismalia.”
Eve suggested. And I agreed with her.
“But we can’t provoke him in any way. So only send humans and small monsters.”
“Certainly. Giants and trolls will be part of the corps.”
“Good. As for someone to lead them…”
I looked at the remaining officers. All of them looked like meat heads to me.
Bradenboro the Werewolf was brave, but he lacked manner when it came to dealing with other people. Slash was the captain of the slimes, but looked like some kind of evolved single cell organism. I didn’t think he had what was necessary to lead an entire army.
–So that meant that the only one that could lead my army, was the person I trusted the most, my maid.
I remembered that she was also a tactician as well as a maid. And so I decided that she could take a break from her maid duties for a while.
“Eve, I want you to lead the soldiers near the border. Any objections?”
Eve smiled upon hearing this.
“I was always a tactician as well. I have no objections.”
But she continued.
“As a tactician, I will no longer be the gentle maid. Anyone who distrupts order when I am in control will be executed without mercy. The rest of you should keep that in mind.”
She said with a diabolical smile that was quite fitting for a demon.
I recalled the time when she was my sole subordinate. And the time we had attacked Sabnac.
Indeed, she had executed the orcs who had been stealing supplies. She had shown that her appearance did not mean that she would be soft.
Stories of that battle had spread, and so no one thought to take Eve lightly.
‘As if I would take orders from a woman.’
That was something I would have imagined the werewolf to say, but instead, he was sweating profusely as he listened to her speak.
Well, there would be no problem there then. Eve would keep the soldiers near the border and maintain high morale until I returned.
Once I was sure of everything, I declared that we would be leaving at once.
My officers all returned to themselves, but one of them raised their voice.
“Glory to Ashtaroth! The king of strategy! Maybe Ashtaroth Castle stand for a thousand years!!”
The others began to chant this as well as they raised their goblets and drank.
Jeanne alone was weak to alcohol, and so she drank orange juice.
Like that, the strategy meeting ended. We had decided on our direction, and Eve immediately returned to being a maid.
After all, she had to prepare for my journey. While I might have been feared on the battlefield, my ability to take care of myself was rather lacking. I didn’t even know how to iron my clothes.
I left everything to Eve. And while I knew that this was no good, seeing how happy she looked while filling my bag with shirts made it difficult to start doing things myself.
It would be like taking away something that she enjoyed. Or maybe I was just misinterpreting things.
Such were my thoughts as I waited for Eve to finish with the preparations. And then on the following day, we left Ashtaroth castle.