And so I gently touched her hair and said,
“It’s not your fault, Eve. Don’t worry about it.”
“But, it was because you had to protect me…”
“It would have been much worse for us if we had lost you. Besides, what would I do if I could no longer drink your tea?”
“Enough of that. I think Decarbia always meant to escape. There was likely little I could do to stop him.”
“Oh? Why is that?”
Eve looked puzzled.
“This is Demon King Decarbia’s castle. Can’t you just destroy his core?”
“Perhaps. But what if his core is not in this castle?”
“Surely, that is not the case?”
“Fuma Kotaro is searching for it now. But my instincts are telling me that it is not here.”
Fuma Kotaro was searching the castle in order to prove this.
He led his subordinates through the castle and they searched carefully, but they were unable to find the Demon King’s core.
Eve was surprised when she found out.
“So, he doesn’t actually live here?”
“I do believe that it is the biggest of the castle towns that he owns. But the core isn’t here. Or perhaps it would be accurate to say that it is ‘no longer’ here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I felt it as we were fighting. There was something strange about him.”
“Well, he is an aberration.”
Kotaro said. But I shook my head.
“It is something that only a fellow sorcerer would notice. But there was immense power within him. And that power can no longer be felt in the castle.”
Eve heard this and then seemed to realize what it suggested.
“Su-surely you don’t mean…”
She was astonished.
“I do mean that. His core is inside of his body. A Demon King who had become one with his core. That is what Decarbia is.”
While Eve was surprised, I was not.
Every Demon King protected their core desperately.
And they all wondered and thought hard on how best to protect theirs. While Decarbia’s was maybe not a perfect answer, it was a good one.
At least, he can not be taken by surprise.
It was no wonder he treated his subordinates badly. He didn’t have the same fear of an uprising that others did.
That was good news for me in a way. But not entirely.
After all, he could move freely without leaving his weakness behind.
I stole his most important town, but he was still free to do as he pleased.
Still, I decided to send a message to those in the castle.
“Demon King Decarbia has escaped. This castle is now the property of the Ashtaroth army. Those of you who were working for Decarbia, surrender immediately. If not, run! There is no point in fighting anymore!”
They lost the will to fight after hearing this. And they all surrendered.
Some of them fled, but it was unknown if they went to Decarbia or not.
It seemed unlikely that any soldiers would want to return to a Demon King who paid them with fake gold.
In any case, there was no point in shedding more blood.
When I said this, Fuma Kotaro replied,
“…Demon King Ashta. You are a true man of ability. You exceed even Hojo Ujiyasu in wisdom. It is as if you are the second coming of his ancestor, Hojo Soun.”
And like that, I earned his trust and a new castle.