I wondered if there was any Demon King in the entire world who would not have been outraged at this opening. Well, I only had to look in the mirror to see one.
Because I did not become angry at all. No, I lowered my head and said:
“It is necessary for me to serve your powerful Count, not just for my own survival, but the survival of my people. I swear to give your Count half of my collected taxes if that will grant me protection.”
The knight’s beard swayed in satisfaction at this.
When the talks were finished, I had a feast prepared and summoned a succubus from the Klein Bottle to entertain him.
And half-drunk, the knight made me a promise.
“Leave it to us. The Count will protect your lands, Ashtaroth.”
“I am very grateful for that. But may I ask one favor?”
“What? Say it?”
“There is a Demon King in the neighboring lands who has been making the same demands to me. Of course, I meant to serve your Count, and so I refused him. But now Sabnac has gathered his soldiers together. He intends on attacking me.”
“He what! Curse him. Does he dare invade a protected subject of the Count? He might as well invade the Count’s lands as well.”
He was so enraged that his beard began to shake. I looked at him calmly and added:
“That is exactly right. This is not just about my own lands, but affects the dignity of the Count.”
“Indeed. And when does he intend on attacking?”
“I have heard that it is to be one week from now. I beg of you, lend us your help.”
“Very well. I will return at once and discuss this with the Count.”
This had lit a spark in the knight’s sense of chivalry, and he returned to his Count, slightly drunk.
After that, Eve said to me:
“Things are going well for now.”
“Yes, they are. Sabnac’s minions should visit me tomorrow. And we will repeat what we did today.”
“The Count is threatening you and so you cannot serve under him. But you are loyal to Sabnac in spirit. And then you will ask him to send his troops out and show his power.”
“Exactly. It is quite pathetic to play such a part, but that is a cheap price for victory.”
“It is what a realist would do. I believe that this is the best possible plan.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It was intended to be. Ah, Sabnac’s underling has arrived. A gargoyle.”
“Then you must prepare a carcass for him. We will treat this one well. And lower our heads to the point of inviting sympathy.”
And so I played out the role once again in front of Sabnac’s minion and asked that he send troops.
I said that I needed help for when the Count attacked in one weeks time and suggested that I would serve Sabnac in return.
And with this, the Count’s army would clash with Sabnac’s.
“So you will have these two armies fight, and strike them while they are weakened.”
“Is that what you think, Eve?”
“That appears to be the most efficient method to me.”
“Indeed, a realist would agree with you. However, while I am a realist, I am also ruthless. A Machiavellian, if you will.”
She looked at me with a puzzled expression.
“In other words, we can find an even more efficient way. But I won’t tell you yet. There would be no fun in that.”
I said, and Eve replied, ‘I look forward to it,’ and smiled just a little.