And so the ant war ended in this way.
There was no serious damage to the citizens. Instead, there were holes everywhere in the town of Ashtaroth.
These were holes dug by the ant army, but we had a hard time filling them.
I had instructed Gottlieb the dwarf to fill the holes, but the next day he suggested that we put the holes to good use.
“I found a hot spring source right next to a hole the ants dug. I want to dig it up and bring it to the surface and build a public bathhouse.”
“That is not a bad idea. Something like the great Roman baths.”
“I don’t know about Rome, but it would be a great place for the people to relax.”
“Very well, then. I’ll secure the funds so you can dig up the hot springs.”
Gottlieb walked away with a ‘certainly.’ I then wondered how I could convince Eve.
As Lord Treasurer, Eve had to stare at the account books day after day.
The ant attack had caused only minor human casualties, but the damage to the town had been enormous. We had to spend money for restorations.
There were also a large number of refugees from Ismailia. And it was not just a matter of feeding them.
And so I apologetically consulted with my finance maid, but she surprisingly gave me permission.
There were several reasons for this, but the first one was that this was being done along the way.
If there was a hot spring right next to a hole, it would be cheaper than digging one from scratch.
It would also be a way to comfort the soldiers who had been injured in the battle.
For these reasons, Eve gave us permission to build a public bathhouse, but it was not for free.
Eve knew that I had taken a hot spring bath with Hijikata Toshizo in the Ismalia underground. She said it wasn’t fair and insisted that I must bathe with her as well.
“Public baths separate men and women.”
I said, in my attempt to refuse, but Gottlieb the dwarf, made an unnecessary remark.
“We’ve set aside a space for family baths. Besides, there will be no men’s or women’s baths before it is opened to the public. And so you can both take the first bath.”
Eve pumped her fist in the air. But I…
“You really shouldn’t do unnecessary things like that.”
I reprimanded him.
“But that’s what old men do. We are such creatures.”
He grumbled and continued the construction.
The restoration of the city and the construction of the public baths were the sole domain of the dwarven engineers.
And I lost the will to complain after seeing how hard they were working.
Besides, Eve’s words must have been a joke. She was not Jeanne, so she would soon forget such a childish promise.
I, too, immersed myself in the restoration project and waited for the town to be repaired and the public baths to be built.
In the meantime, I had a few weeks to wait, and so I patrolled the town with Jeanne.
It was also to inspect the place.
Recently, Ashtaroth town’s security had been deteriorating.
The reason for this was the rapid increase in population. Refugees were arriving from all over the place, causing trouble with the original inhabitants.
The original inhabitants would have a lot to say, but many of the refugees lost their property in the disaster and war zones. No, many of them had lost not only their property but also their families.
And while in such an excited state, many of them turned to crime.
It was my role as the ruler of these lands to comfort their minds and educate them to become decent citizens.
And so today, I stared at a group of young men who had migrated from a neighboring country as refugees.
They were drinking, not working, even though it was daytime.
If that was all they were doing, it wouldn’t be a crime, but I couldn’t overlook the fact that they were pulling the hand of a town girl and trying to force her to pour them drinks.
Jeanne seemed to feel the same way and jumped out on her own.
“You! Stop acting like scoundrels!”
Gallant, beautiful, and pure.
The saint’s declaration was dignified, but not quite intimidating.
The blonde girl was more dainty and pretty than anything.
And so the young men then tried to get Jeanne to pour them a drink, but she became so angry that she punished them.
She pulled out the holy sword on her back and slashed the belts of their pants.
The pitiful young men whose belts had been slashed, ran away as they tried to hold their pants up so they wouldn’t fall.
“And now it’s all over.”
Jeanne, breathing hard, declared her victory. The town girl thanked her politely.
“I don’t think that they are bad people. They must have experienced terrible things in other towns.”
She was an intelligent girl. And since she had convinced me, I would not punish them any further. However, I will have the ninja check on them and give them some educational guidance.
I intended to get them jobs at the dwarven construction company and help reform them.
I thought that if they worked hard, the bad memories would fade and they would not do anything unseemly.
Now, the matter was all settled, but Jeanne began to pull my hand.
Apparently, she had found a new store on the street corner.
My first thought was that she had found a new place to eat, but what she had brought me to was not a restaurant.
It was a small bookstore.
And when she entered the bookstore, she said,
“Demon King, I’m going to get you a present. A book of your choice.”
But don’t get anything naughty, she reminded me.
As I’m not a child, I wouldn’t buy anything like that, but I was curious to know what had caused her to want to do this.
“Jeanne, it’s unusual for you to get a gift. You always spend all of your allowance on food.”
“Don’t underestimate me. I give gifts once in a while too. It’s my way of showing my appreciation.”
“I can’t believe this is coming from the saint who ate all my food the other day when we went out to eat.”
“That was just a coincidence. I even prepared the money to pay for the book today.”
She then took out a bag of gold coins from her pocket. It was quite a lot.
At first I thought about refusing, but then I thought that refusing here would be to disregard her sentiment.
And so I went around the store and decided to allow her to buy one book for me.
“Now, what should I buy?”
When it came to buying books, I suddenly got excited.
I’m a book-loving Demon King. I read at least one book a day, and I’m an addict of the printed word.
Jeanne probably never imagined what would happen if she brought such a Demon King to a bookstore.
Perhaps because it was my first time in this bookstore, I spent an hour looking at the shelves of books. I browsed for so long that Jeanne began to yawn.
What I soon discovered was that this bookstore had an amazing selection of books.
The bookstore had everything from novels to technical books to military books, however, the small store was also filled with my favorite books of all time.
It was as if I was looking at my own bookshelf.
I was looking at the shelves with fascination, but Jeanne seemed to be getting bored. I would have to find a book before she starts complaining.
And so I picked up a random book. I flipped through it, and since it happened to have a cover that I liked, I bought it.
When purchasing it, Jeanne happily pulled out her purse and asked, ‘What book is that?’
“It’s a self-published book.”
“A book written by an individual without the help of a publisher or book dealer.”
“Do you enjoy reading such books?”
“I don’t know about that yet, but this book looks interesting. First of all, I like the binding.”
I lightly grasped the handsomely bound book.
Upon seeing this, Jeanne said, ‘that’s good.’ But she didn’t seem to understand why I was happy.
Well, it was a feeling of elation that only a book lover could understand.
I hoped that I could share it with Jeanne someday. It was with such thoughts that I went back to the castle and read the book.
It was quite an interesting book, and I read it until dinner time, and then I suddenly remembered something.
“…Well, I could publish my own book.”
I had been exclusively a reader, but now had dreams of publishing. And so after dinner, I picked up my pen.
This was to make a manuscript copy of a certain book. It would all be done by hand. It would become a sort of ritual after I finished my duties, and it would be my life’s work.