“Anri, listen well. I have a small request to make, do you mind?”
“Not at all! Order me as you see fit!”
“Bring me all the demons that serve under me. Let them gather in this hall.”
“All… of the demons?”
Anri looks confused as she speaks.
“Indeed. There is something I wish to say to them.”
“…I understand. But if I may, would it be possible to leave just a few of them out so that they may continue patrolling outside the castle walls?”
“You may do so. I have nothing against it.”
About thirty minutes tick by. That’s how long it takes for all demons here to gather in this hall, every single one of them dropping to their knees.
…There’s a lot of them.
There have to be ten thousand of them, at the very least. They’re so vast in numbers that the great hall isn’t even enough to contain them, and some were resigned to kneeling past the entrance. I have come across quite the multitude just by taking light strolls inside the castle, but I had never once imagined that my troops had this many heads.
Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Right now, I have to see my plans through.
“All of you, raise your heads. There is something important I wish to share.”
All as one, the demons turn their attention to me. In my past life, I was just the worst at talking in front of large crowds. I almost recoil on instinct alone, but I can’t have that happen. I gather every ounce of courage I have and rise from my throne.
“As of today, the High King’s Troops shall be disbanded.”
For a single moment, the entire hall is smothered by silence. Giving these demons their freedom; that was my first task as their supreme ruler.
“Y-Yuuto-sama?! You can’t be serious, can you?!”
Anri, kneeling in the front lines, asks me this with a shaken tone.
“I am indeed. From this day forth, you are your own masters. You may live your mortal lives however you see fit.”
Well, they’re not human, so I’m really not sure how much the idea of a ‘mortal life’ applies to them… But this should settle it. These demons should be more than happy with this.
It only takes a split second for them to break out in restless murmurs.
“Why would Yuuto-sama say something like this so suddenly…?!”
“Could we have done something to earn his ire…?!”
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“Oh! Do you think that Yuuto-sama’s trying to test our loyalty?”
“That’s it, that has to be it!”
You people are really reading too much into this, you know?! Would it kill you just to accept things the way they are?!
“Then… Then I shall remain here in this castle!”
“Me too! Nothing would make us happier than to stay by your side!”
The demons stand up one after the other. What’s with this atmosphere? This really isn’t the way I wanted things to turn out. Finally, all of them rise to their feet.
“The High King’s Troops have reunited…!!!”
“Hail, Yuuto-sama! Hail, Yuuto-sama!”
The demons all break out into cheers of joy. It looks like trying to give them their freedom really backfired on me. Just how loyal could these people get?
“I can offer nothing but apologies for breaking the silence upon realizing your true intentions. But as you can see, Yuuto-sama, every single demon here sees their devotion to you as the greatest of all blessings. That includes me, of course.”
Anri lowers her head, almost kowtowing. No, you totally decided on these ‘true intentions’ by yourselves, you know?
“So I beg of you, please remain as the one who rules over the very apex of demon-kind. That is what we all wish, from the bottom of our hearts.”
“… I can see that.”
I say that only with complete resignation. It looks like anything I try to say’ll end up in another ‘Hail Yuuto-sama’ round.
“Yuuto-sama! I have a report to make!”
Turning my gaze to the voice emanating from the window, I caught sight of a single demon with flapping wings. Probably one of the demons patrolling the outside, here to contact me directly.
“You cur! Calling to Yuuto-sama from such a place is the pinnacle of disrespect! Take your own life as punishment!”
“Calm yourself, Anri. Is this report of yours urgent?”
The great hall is in a rather high part of the castle, after all. Going the normal way would take its fair share of time.
“Y-Yes! A great army is advancing on your castle from the south-west! About fifty thousand men strong!”
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I rise from my throne and move closer to the window. There, I can see people riding their steeds, kicking up clouds of dust as they approach.
“Anri, can you see them as well?”
“I can. The huma– the vermin army, it seems.”
Your correction’s out of order, you know…
“They must wish to topple your reign as High King, Yuuto-sama. Such foolishness…!”
Her face is bent and distorted, and her teeth noisily grind against each other.
Not good. Super scary.
Anri twirls around to face the other demons.
“This is an order, all of you! The High King’s Troops shall destroy those vermin, and not a single bone shall remain! We shall teach them that fighting against us is nothing short of madness!”
D-Destroy? Not leave a single bone?! Whoa there, hold your horses!
“Halt, Anri. Do you plan to massacre the lot?”
“Of course, Lord. The vermin may have strength in numbers, but with the strength of our troops it will as simple as twisting the hand of a newborn babe.”
“No, no. That’s really not what I meant to say…”
“Please, Yuuto-sama, be at ease. It won’t be harder than using bug spray.”
The corners of her mouth rise ominously. No, there’s no way she gets it. It doesn’t matter if they want my head on a platter; I’m a former human myself. I can’t just sit by and gawk at the massacre of fifty thousand men.
“Come, we move now! We shall live up to Yuuto-sama’s expectations!”
No, no! No one’s expecting anything here!
The minute my shout echoes out, the demons’ clamoring screeches to a halt.
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“All of you, hold your positions. I shall take care of this myself.”
Another commotion breaks out among them.
“You wish to do this on your own, Yuuto-sama! There’s no need to trouble yourself; we can –”
“I simply wish to exercise my own strength. It’s been some time. You may remain here and enjoy the view.”
“A-As you command!”
My eyes travel to the sight beyond the window again. There’s still a few kilometers between us and the army. I have to admit; this is my first time using an incantation since my reincarnation. I can’t help but be a bit nervous.
I don’t have the slightest intention of harming a hair on their heads. I want to be the king of supreme ruler who wouldn’t hurt a fly, after all. I want to keep my hands clean. Sending a small explosion close to them should be enough to scare them off.
My finger points toward the area in front of the army.
“Incantation: Disaster Cannon!”
I can’t help but think that the incantation sounds just a little too much like something a middle-schooler’d come up with, but regardless, a thin, violet beam shoots from the tip of my finger. I don’t even use a single percent of my power, so that army should be…
I’m at a loss for words. A huge explosion rocks the area, strong enough to be confused with a dropped nuke. The wind from the explosion reaches the castle, and the demons inside can’t help but yell in surprise. Once I’m finally back to my senses, the entire area south-west of this castle is a charred field of nothing, and there isn’t a single sign of the army left.
My mouth stayed open for longer than I care to admit. I… I didn’t think it’d be this powerful…
“I have a report to make! We’ve received confirmation that all fifty thousand men have been decimated! Not one of them remains!”
“…Yes. Thank you.”
I’m speaking with my head in my hands. Won’t hurt a fly? Try eliminating fifty thousand people…!
“Truly, as if disposing of refuse through a trial of flame. We’ve come to expect nothing less, Yuuto-sama. Our kind may call them vermin, but to the supreme ruler, our High King, they barely even count as living creatures! I, Anri, can only be overcome by admiration.”
“…Heh… Hehahahahah! Of course!”
I laugh. Playing along’s the only option for me now.
“Yuuto-sama was amazing, wasn’t he?”
“To think that he would show such power despite holding back…”
“Truly befitting of the one who stands at the top!”
“With Yuuto-sama on our side, even world conquest is no simple dream!”
“Hail, Yuuto-sama! Hail, Yuuto-sama! Hail, Yuuto-sama!”
Surrounded by peals of hailing calls, the only thing I can muster is a long, deep sigh.