"Father, did you see that?"
A pair of father and son was sitting duck behind a bush on a hill. They were watching the annihilation of the undead horde led by the Lich.
They both had black hair and black eyes with the most generic face that people had. The son looked to be in his teens while the father looked like an older version of him in his thirties. If anyone could be called the average these two would be the epitome of that. They wore leather armors with long curved swords on their backs. Their weapons were pretty well used.
Hiding in a bush may not be a good idea in a storm but they had nowhere to hide at the moment.
"Do we report this to the clan?"
"... We do."
After confirming the demise of the Lich, they retreated slowly. Even though they were very far from the battlefield, they still stayed at maximum vigilance.
"Father, is this considered 'mission accomplished'?"
He didn't answer and they kept quiet the whole time while traveling. These two were undertaking the mission of tracking and eliminating the Lich from their clan. There were other groups who also went after the remaining monsters from the capital.
The sky was clearing up and they also started running faster when they were inside the forest.
The two arrived at a remote village deep in the mountain. The place was isolated and far away from any city. Its surroundings were full of wildlife and vicious monsters. The only thing separating the village and the hostile environment was a big wooden wall about five meters high on one side and the rocky mountains on the other side. The houses were also made of wood and hardened clay.
But the people here were not in any danger. They were the apex predators of this place.
"Jin, I will be at the Head's house."
"You could talk more, you know? I am your son."
"Yeah yeah, go do your report. I will be going home then."
His son sighed and went on ahead through the gate alone. The man stood still for a moment and he too went on his way.
The tallest house in the village was his destination. He saw that the village was still mostly vacated. That meant he was the earliest to return here.
When he arrived at the back of the village, the rock wall on the mountain's side, there was a half-naked old man sitting on a log with his hatchet resting nearby. The old man had ripping muscle with a neat, trimmed beard.
"Oi, Sagat! Why do you return here? Forget something?"
"... Mission accomplished."
The old man heaved a sigh and led Sagat inside the biggest house in the village. They sat at a long table in the middle of the house. There were seven chairs on each side and a bigger one at the head of the table.
Sagat sat near the end while the old man sat at the most important seat.
"Can't you sit nearer? The seats are not named, you know?"
"Dammit, you and your father are the same! At least your son takes after Naomi. Forget it! Report."
The old man gave up. Sagat stayed silent for a while before talking.
“The Lich attacked Silver Pass with around two hundred tier-three and twenty thousand tier-one undead.”
“What!? That many? Are you sure you didn’t mistakenly add a zero?”
Sagat frowned but still confirmed it with a nod.
“This isn’t good. Tier three undead are as tough as demons. If the Lich was that powerful, the other escaping monsters had to be the same, or else they would be corpses already. The other teams need reinforcement.”
The ranking system was made and used by the old Hero a thousand years ago and was still used today. It labeled monsters’ power from tier zero to tier ten with the Demon Lord at the top and standard soldiers at tier zero.
Tier one’s power was ten times tier zero and tier two was twenty times. Each tier was the multiples of ten to tier zero. That said, it wasn’t like a hundred soldiers could take on the Demon Lord.
Passing a certain point, the power became a quality thing. No amount of soldiers could take on a tier five monster. Their strength and endurance were higher, their mana pool was bigger. If all fifty soldiers could strike at the same point and at the same time it could be called equal to a tier five monster’s attack. But that was impossible.
And the critical thing was humans couldn’t combine their stamina and toughness into one person. They were one-fiftieth of the monster no matter how many they were.
Furthermore, the tier ten rank of the Demon Lord wasn’t meant a hundred times stronger than a soldier. It was an unranked seat since humans couldn’t measure a Demon Lord’s power. However, everyone else had long since forgotten about that and tier ten became what it implied. This was the fault of the Hero and his companions for not anticipating their own measurement became widespread. Luckily there was only one Demon Lord. Or maybe not.
“Sagat, what has become of the city?”
“It is unharmed.”
The old man stared at him with hard eyes. Disbelief was apparent on his face. Sagat continued his short report.
“The undead horde was annihilated by huge strategic-class wind magic. The Lich survived but was destroyed instantly by someone from the knights.”
“The strategic-class magic is understandable since it was Count Heuser’s city but how is someone able to finish a Lich of that caliber instantly? That couldn’t be one of us, right? The Hero’s descendants should be all here already.”
The old man mulled loudly but there was no answer from Sagat. He then suddenly looked up into the man’s eyes.
“I am sorry but I have a new mission for you and your son.”
Seeing he didn’t react, the old man continued.
“Infiltrate Silver Pass and investigate that person. Try to recruit him to our cause if he wasn’t evil.”
“... It is a girl.”
Sagat closed his eyes to avoid the twitching glare of the old man.
“... This will be very important to our future, to the world’s future. Get to it!”
He stood up and left the house quickly as if something was going to chase him.
The old man was alone at the table. He was contemplating very hard about something as sweat started to roll down his face.
“Dammit, I shouldn’t have eaten that.”
He ran to the back of the house swiftly with his hand on his abdomen.
“Ahh, it feels so refreshing~”
Elena was lazing around on the balcony of the mansion while watching Emily trying her best to move the leaf on the floor with wind magic. Mari was serving her cold lemonade that was freshly made at the table nearby. Ice was provided by the mages guarding the door. They were quite useful if she was to be honest. Lionel was also watching Emily with a curious look.
Emily was advancing quite well in her magic control. One day, she suddenly jumped around and laughed like a crazy person. Then she felt it. She felt the torrent of mana in Emily’s body moved with active intention. Although it wasn’t anything great yet, but she was getting there fast.
It had been a week since the attack. The city was getting back on its feet with great vigor. It wasn’t her business to help with the management and logistics after the crisis so she just enjoyed herself.
The city wasn’t damaged but rats were running about so knights and soldiers were busy. She stopped her show on the training ground for a while because there weren’t many people there.
The good news was that her colosseum was being built right at the moment. The Count liked her idea of hosting tournaments too. It was built outside the city and within walking distance. It would become noisy and security problems would be hard-pressed for the soldiers if she insisted on building inside the city right then.
Furthermore, the land around the city was leveled flat by her so the Count planned to expand the city to hold another district. He was playing big to provoke someone. It sounded like he would be very busy for a long time but actually, he only did one thing at a time. The other project was made to look like it was starting but didn’t.
She could see he was baiting someone with the opportunity. And it was working quite well too as she smelt blood from the butler sometimes when he walked by. Her new father was quite a villain himself.
“Oh, Elena. Do you want to come with me to a tea party tomorrow? Marchioness Ophelia gave us an invitation this morning.”
Elena paused for a moment. Marquess was one rank higher than her family and could be her enemy.
Hmm, go visit them a bit is fine, I guess.
She wasn’t that interested in them at the moment. But bonding with her new mother would be good too. She had been neglecting the woman for quite a while.
My mother’s name is Filianore right? Ugh, I wouldn’t call her by name anyway.
“That’s wonderful, mother. I haven’t gone with you to a tea party for a long time now. This is a great opportunity.”
“Ah, my daughter! I thought you wouldn’t want to be with me anymore. You have been absorbed in your training ever since…”
Oh no, she starts to cry? What?
Although Elena was also a female, she didn’t understand much about women. Her mother was raised as a noble lady so she would be acting like that naturally even if she wasn’t really feeling that stressed. It was a necessary skill for noblewomen but Elena didn’t need that kind of acting so she mostly dismissed the memories.
“So mother, would it be alright for us to go to the Marquess household?"
"Don't worry about that. Let your mother deal with the difficult topic."
Her mother patted her on the head. Since she was Elena she would allow it but not for long. She stood up from her chair interrupting her mother's action. She felt she should pull the topic back on.
“It’s great then. By the way, would it be fine if I bring my maids?”
“Of course, dear. Your personal guard Sir Lionel will also be going with us. I can’t let my daughter have any less protection.”
Filianore was looking at Mari while saying that. She knew the maid’s power well when Elena and Mari were training in the yard. By the way she looked at the maid, Elena presumed her mother had been very satisfied with Mari’s quality. Although the butler was still the same as always at least he didn’t interfere with her bringing Mari along on a trip.
The contribution Mari made in the defense was undeniable and her fame was starting to pick up.
“My daughter, right now is a great opportunity. Why don’t we go shopping? You will need a new dress for tomorrow too.”
“Hmm, if you say so. Emily, Mari! We are going to the city.”
Mari bowed lightly while Emily fell over after seeing Filianore. She was too absorbed in training and didn't notice that Elena's mother was here at all and she failed to greet her.
Her mother also didn’t mind that. It wasn’t the first time they met and her clumsiness was well known in the house. Furthermore, because Elena liked her maids so much, everyone couldn’t say much about it.
Filianore smiled and pulled Elena’s hand out of the room. A big carriage was already prepared outside waiting for them. Her maids and guards would be on the driver seats and back seats outside the carriage.
Well, playing around with my mother is fine too. I haven’t seen the shops here yet.
All Elena’s plans were long-term things. She thought she could gain some new ideas about what to do with the gods when the new enchantment fell in her hand. But it was useless.
Not that the power was lacking. It was just that she felt something was missing. Her intuition told her this power would not be enough to hurt the gods. At least the ones she knew would be scratch-free if hit by her enhanced power.
She was smitten by gods a few times in the past so she knew well that divine power didn't contain life force. Which was the energy of all things in the material realm.
When she and her mother were in the carriage Elena remembered something.
Ah, I forgot the kidnappers.
After the battle, she had been dealing with the spotlight of single-handedly crushing the undead army. Her [Cyclone] was very impressive to battle mages, it seemed. Although she had just been making a storm and directing the wind to the ground with hardly any cost, the wind spirits had gotten somewhat excited and gone wild. The post-battle was overwhelming for both the people and her. Mari's final hit on the Lich was extraordinary enough to share the attention with Elena so things were more hyped than expected.
But thanks to that she forgot about those kidnappers. She was wondering where they could have been in the past few days. Because infiltrating the mansion was impossible for them, going out like this would be a huge opportunity. It would still be quite risky for them though.
Hmm, oh well. They could still ambush me when I go out of the city tomorrow.
Elena looked at her mother. Seeing how happy and content she was, a small idea arose in her head.
Heh, why don't I get her to be kidnapped along with me? I could blame this on that Marchioness too.
An uncontrollable smile crept up on her face. Getting rid of nobles above her rank was one of her objectives. She could just remove them from existence but that wasn't the purpose. What she wanted was for them to lose everything instead of disappearing instantly without knowing anything.
She needed some activities to practice her new noble role anyway, and who would be a better target except the other nobles? Because the master of those slavers was so good at hiding, it couldn't be helped for there to be casualties.
As a noblewoman, maybe I should do it the human way. It won't hurt to try out new things.
She arrived at the first shop. After a few steps away from the carriage, she had already seen some hoods in an alley nearby.
Wow, it isn't suspicious at all to be the only person who covers your head in an alley.
She started to worry that her plan would fail from the first phase because of them. And as expected, her knights who followed secretly from behind rushed to the alley.
Fortunately, the kidnappers had escaped successfully. Elena let out a sigh of relief. Mari and Emily tilted their heads at seeing her acting weird suddenly.
She went into the shop with her mother without much happening. All the clothing business wasn’t her interest. But one thing she noticed was that the material those nobles used for their dresses was seriously a waste of resources. These things had no business to be this rare.
I don’t know the name of those furs but they could be used to make a powerful magic item. The mana property in this silk roll too.
Elena walked along the shop to inspect the different dresses. Lionel didn’t come in together with them but Mari was here so it was quite alright to her mother. It wasn’t like anything would happen with the kidnappers having run away already though.
Emily was trembling while following her, the sheer value of the clothes had overwhelmed her completely. Her mother was busy with the seamstress about their new party dresses and she shall leave them to that.
Elena was doubting the intention of the Marchioness in inviting them over on such short notice. Usually, the invitation would be at least a week before the party. But because both of her parents seemed to not be making any fuss over such matters, there must be something very beneficial for them. Unfortunately, she would have to crash that with her plan.
I don’t know where this Marchioness’s house is but it must be close to our territory. Well, I will know soon enough.
Elena didn’t have a lot of information about the nobility of the Agava kingdom. Many things were just surface knowledge. The old Elena hadn’t learned about the background of each and every noble yet. She was glad that she didn’t have to possess such boring memories.
She resumed checking the dresses as they were all interesting materials she hadn't seen before.
Mana crafting with creation magic was omnipotent as its name suggested. But the main issue was that the caster needed to know what they intended to make to its very essence. Wizards other than her had an additional problem, mana cost.
Studying the properties of matter was hard. Very hard. Especially when people couldn't even comprehend why the sky was blue or why their blood was red. Except for the Heroes. They somehow knew a lot of incomprehensible things. Like the [Fission Fireball].
Regrettably, Elena could only use some small fraction of their knowledge. With that said, her understanding of mundane matters increased so much that she could make the black metal adamantium now. It would still require some effort but she could do it.
Outside of that, her understanding of magic reached beyond the boundary of worlds. Creating souls was her main reason for getting attention from gods. And making Demon souls was the reason they branded her Demon King. She knew what she did and she took pride in that.
Among the beings that surpassed the world's limit, she was perhaps the most dangerous because her domain was magic. But she was still nothing before the gods which made her frustrated to no end.
Looking back at the weirdly sparkling silver fur coat, she felt her insufficient ability again. She didn't know how to make anything here. Magic items depended on their based material. The higher the quality, the better the enchantment it could hold. But studying these new materials was too troublesome. She could acquire it easily with money now though. Or she could go get it herself too if she knew where it was.
"I should commission some of these furs. What kind of beast is this?"
"That… looks like it was from a white behemoth."
Elena was not really looking for an answer but the one replied made her surprised. Emily was somehow knowing about the weirdest thing. But because she was her maid so it wouldn’t matter as long as Elena could use the knowledge.
“White behemoth? What kind of creature is that?”
“Um, I don’t remember very well but they are a rare subspecies of the behemoth. Hunting them is not easy as they are very big and strong. Like a dragon.”
Look like my maid is very good at monsterology. Weird hobby for a city girl.
Elena was not aware of her maid’s unique ability so it wasn’t making any sense for her to know about such an exotic beast suddenly unless it was something one actively craved for.
But mentioning rare monsters tickled her interest. It hadn't been long since her completed rebirth. Her mana should have done wonders for the monsters around her territory now. She expected more powerful monsters to show up in the future.
It would be fun to add a beast-slaying event to the colosseum. I can host it every weekend.
"Elena? Come here, dear. Do you need something else to add to your dress?"
She came over and looked at her dress. It was underwhelming. She couldn't see any difference between this dress and her wardrobe at home except for some minor decorations.
At least it was a black and red theme, which she liked.
Well, my fashion sense is not reliable. I should leave this to my mother.
Elena quietly accompanied Filianore in this little expedition for the day. They went shop after shop with the only stop being lunch, then Filianore pulled Elena to some more jewelry shop. This was a new experience for her so she didn't get too bored during all the hassle. She wouldn't be tired but her mother's endless stamina surprised her. She was amazed that Filianore could carry on with just her excitement alone.
The willpower of humans was still a mystery to her to this day.
Lady Ophelia was the wife of Marquess Jake Calahan. She held as much power as her husband over their finances. Her attitude was fit for her station. The flow of money in her territory was in her hand. With just her displeasure, some merchants may disappear on the road. Her connection was vast and nothing could touch her. Until now.
Things had been getting worse since two weeks ago. Their grain supply was decreased by half. It had been less and less every day. Right now, the price of wheat was sky-high in their territory. They needed to buy from other nearby regions but it still wasn’t enough.
The pressure on the people increased many folds from the lack of food and jobs.
That was another big issue. The available jobs in her city had markedly disappeared. The reason was her partners in business, the merchants that worked exclusively for the Marquess, had all die in unfortunate road trips. The wealth of the whole territory fell down many nodes. People were leaving her land gradually.
Her husband was also not having an easier time than her. His faction was in a mess since the catastrophe at the capital.
Many nobles were lost in that hell. Although being of low rank, they were the meat and blood of every faction. The royal faction was taking the opportunity to deprive the noble faction of many of its powers. The Calahan House stood on the royalty’s side but all their assets in the capital had been destroyed. A large part was due to the monsters’ rampage, the other was the retaliation of the noble faction. The king couldn’t protect them all with such a huge mess in his hand. It had become the land of the savage very fast and carelessly stepping in would only doom their House.
The problem was that Marchioness Ophelia didn’t know who had been targeting them so viciously. Their hands and feet were cut off and were still bleeding hard. She couldn’t let this persist.
As of now, the foreign forces were trying to get into their kingdom. She could use this opportunity to forge new connections and gather some help within their faction.
She still couldn’t feel at ease. So she reached out to more neutral nobles who didn’t join any faction. Those people were not ambitious, or they just hate the struggle in the court. Among them was the Heuser House. They were a powerful faction on their own but by the decree of the previous king, they had to guard the border. And so they stayed away from the internal conflict most of the time but their power was undeniable.
She wanted their support if possible. Perhaps getting them to join was just a dream but she could still have a good connection.
Then another disaster hit. This time it wasn’t bad but it screwed up her plans. News of the attack on Silver Pass made ripples throughout the kingdom. The annihilation of the Lich came as a hard shock to the capital. They didn’t think something like that would be possible at all. Because they all saw how the Lich’s magic had contested against all those gigantic monsters.
But due to the marching of the undead army, her couriers were dead. The little power she had gathered was gone. Luckily, they hadn’t marched into her land or else everything would have been lost.
Currently, she needed to rectify the bad luck. She sent out the invitations again to all the Lady of the big Houses. A tea party would be ideal for their talk about the future aspects of the kingdom as well as giving her their support.
Something happened again.
The courier that was supposed to go to the Heuser territory was killed. This was no accident. Someone clearly didn’t want her to reach out to the Count’s household. That just meant she would be right to do just that.
Duke Dovantine was in the royal faction and his son was engaged with the daughter of Count Heuser. The rumors that someone had tried to assassinate the Count's daughter twice reached her ears very early too. Someone was very afraid of the royal faction gaining a powerful ally.
As a Marchioness with vast knowledge of the nobility, she doubted Count Heuser would join her faction just because his daughter married the Duke's son. That man was not a pushover. His military might was undoubtedly unrivaled. It was reinforced by the fact that a legendary Lich was slain in his territory.
It was by chance but her secret guards had captured a spy. Ophelia wasn't a faint-hearted woman. She immediately ordered her agents to use all their means to extract information, including forbidden and taboo acts such as mind control, drugs, and demonic possession.
The fragmented information led her to the scheme of another power struggle for the throne. But there was something she could use.
If she told Countess Filianora about the mastermind behind her daughter's assassination, she could have a big favor to gain in the future.
With that in mind, she sent her agent to deliver the letter. The time of the tea party was near but she couldn't postpone it because all the other invitations had been delivered already. She only hoped the Countess got her hint and understood it.
After all, the enemy of her enemy was her friend. And she would definitely get this friend. She had also made sure that Duke Dovantine's daughter was invited too as she was the future queen of the kingdom and of the same faction as her.
Marchioness Ophelia stood by the window and watched the figure of her loyal subordinate dashing out of the castle with the invitation. Hope filled her face as she looked up at the dark sky. The weather had been bad recently. Another storm was approaching. She just prayed that no more tragedy would fall toward her.
End of chapter 9