We were asked to surrender our weapons as soon as we entered the castle.
Toshizou immediately berated them and claimed that this was an outrage. A great insult against guests. But he was just acting.
It was obvious that we would be arrested either way. I would have been very surprised if they didn’t try and take away our weapons.
But we pretended to be indignant so that the count would not suspect anything.
It seemed rather foolish to have to act like this, but foolish acting was often necessary in the world. We both knew this, and so we continued to grumble while handing over our weapons.
In fact, I only used a plain long sword and short sword, so it didn’t matter. But Toshizou used a special katana. It was a Izuminokami Kanesada. Obviously, he could not allow them to take such a treasure. And so he left the sword with Jeanne, and he currently had a different Japanese sword on his belt, which was still rare.
The guard looked at the rare blade, and then was about to take it off to the guard house.
But I stopped him.
“Ah, could you take this as well?”
“And what is that?”
The guard looked at the suspicious object inside of the bag. I explained.
“The thing is, my long sword is cursed. It’s alive.”
The guard’s face went pale. Indeed, it would not be strange for a Demon King to have a cursed sword.
“It becomes hungry once a day, so you should feed it with what is inside of that bag.”
The bag I gave him was moving. The soldier looked even more scared.
“…And what happens if it isn’t fed?”
He asked hesitantly. I gave him an indirect answer.
“There was an orc who used to take care of it. He was a good orc, but he is now part of the skeleton army. You understand my meaning?”
He did. And he promised to feed it.
I thanked him and then we headed for the audience hall.
The audience hall was much larger and grand than the one in Ashtaroth castle.
“If I’m not wrong, a count is somewhere in the middle, yes? It goes, duke, marquis, count, viscount, and baron.”
“And yet this is very impressive. Your castle doesn’t even compare to this.”
“And yet I’m still a king.”
I said self-deprecatingly.
Well, there were all kinds of nobles in this world, and so it wasn’t too strange for a count to have wealth that was comparable to a king. In the first place, while Demon Kings called themselves ‘kings,’ the average one was definitely closer to a count in terms of how much land they had. There were seventy-two of us. So we couldn’t all rule over vast territories.
Toshizou seemed satisfied when I explained this to him. But there was something else that bothered him now.
“I see a luxurious chair over there. But the count is absent. Unless he is invisible.”
“He’s probably going to arrive soon.
I guessed. And was quickly proved to be right.
A servant with a particularly loud voice shouted.
“Count Ismalia has arrived!”
The voice echoed throughout the hall. I almost wanted to ask him to join my army. But now was not the time. I had to concentrate on the count.
Count Ismalia was a middle-aged man. Rather plain looking. He would not look like a nobleman were it not for his clothes. If anything, one might say he looked like a farmer.
The knight who stood next to him looked more noble.
However, Ismalia had clearly lived like this for many years. As there was a sense of authority in his voice.
“So, you are Demon King Ashtaroth.”
“That is correct.”
I didn’t kneel. I was a king. And so I had to emphasize that we were standing here as equals.
The count didn’t seem to mind. He knew all about diplomacy and manners.
And so he stood up from his chair and took my hand.
“Demon King Ashtaroth, you are younger than I expected.”
“I was only born recently.”
“And yet you have the skill of someone more experienced. You even had me fooled.”
“Yes, it was rather sly of me.”
“Well, it’s water under the bridge now. It’s only natural for a lord to plot in such ways.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that.”
I said with a bow.
“Yes. So nevermind that. We are going to form an alliance.”
“About that, are you certain? I’m sure that many of your people will not like it.”
There was a man standing nearby with a long beard. He looked at me with a sulky expression.
“Of course, not everyone in my territory looks at you kindly. However, it would be the same anywhere else.”
That was true. There was animosity between neighbors no matter where you went.
“Emotion and politics should be separated.”
“Exactly. And so as the lord of Ismalia, I want us to be friends.”
“I feel the same. A non-aggression pact would be preferable.”
“Then we are in agreement.”
And he continued.
“Mmm. I would like for us to sign our names at once, but I will invite you to dine with me first. We will have a feast tonight.”
“I look forward to it.”
“And there is someone that I want you to meet. At the table.”
Someone he wants me to meet? But I didn’t ask him about it. I would find out soon enough.
There was no need to rush things.
“Well, you will have to wait in your room until dinner. Is there anything you want in the meantime?”
I glanced over to Toshizou. ‘A woman,’ he joked. But as I could not make such a request, I merely answered, ‘we will be fine.’ And then a servant led us to the rooms.
I would be separated from Toshizou, but we would meet again at dinner.
And so I sat down in the bed and let out a sigh.
I had been nervous this whole time, half-expecting to be attacked as soon as we entered. But I couldn’t relax yet. While the count was more friendly than I had expected, I still felt that the situation could change suddenly.
However, I was tired, so I lay down on the bed. Dinner would be served in the evening, so I still had about two hours left for sleep. It was best for humans to sleep when they could.
My ability to make decisions would be affected if I was tired. And my physical capabilities would drop as well.
‘A good leader should sleep when he can.’
I declared to myself. And then I fell asleep.