“So…” Tepes started. “I have info that the second generation Pretty Frost has finally retired.”
“Is that true?” the demon lord asked, alarm only faintly coloring in his voice.
“Yup. She’s out of the picture.” Tepes nodded before scowling. “The bad news is that they had already found a successor and from what I’ve heard, that successor is a magic genius.”
“I see…” The demon lord relaxed. “That’s terrible news. We will need to increase the pressure on them, then.” He turned to his daughter. “Hecate, it’s your turn next. You know what to do.”
“Of course!” Hecate put on an evil grin reminiscent of Jessica’s. “I’ll go plan out the attack right away!” The demon girl stood up and swiftly left the meeting room.
“As always, the information from your extensive spy network is invaluable,” the demon lord praised Tepes. “With this forewarning, we can prepare.”
Tepes snorted. “We’ll see how much good that will even do.” She crossed her arms. “I sealed up the previous Frost real good, you know? But apparently, this successor managed to free her all on her own. She’s a force to be reckoned with, if my trusted spies are to be believed.” She paused for a moment, tilting her head and narrowing her eyes. “And they are, of course.”
Jake – no, Merdis – had no idea when or how had his daughter managed to build an entire spy network. He was once again reminded that his daughter had been able to qualify for and easily pass the demon general trials all by her own merit. Something like creating a spy network was probably child’s play to her.
“Anything else then?” Salem spoke up.
“Hmm…” Tepes leaned back as she crossed her arms. “Not particularly… There were some rumors that a high school is doing a theater play featuring me as one of the characters, but that’s not important.”
“Is that so? Are you not offended by it?”
A scoff. “Let them do whatever they want. Their wannabe director got sick, so it might not even happen in the end. And if it does, it might be entertaining. So I’ll let it slide for now.”
Merdis wasn’t sure how he felt about someone pretending to be his daughter in a theater play. The opposite usually happened: she pretended to be someone else.
“The last topic is the rebels,” the demon king announced. “There had been no sightings of them for over a month now. That is concerning. They must be planning something.”
“I tend to agree,” Salem said before she turned to Tepes with a visible scowl. “What happened to the rumors that they infiltrated the Earth? Were they true in the end?”
“It’s probable, but it’s been a long time since they’ve caused any trouble on Earth as well, so they could have very well returned to the demon realm.”
“Any ideas on how they managed to cross over yet?” the demon lord asked.
Tepes clicked her tongue. “They must have snuck through the castle’s portal somehow… Maybe they tricked some minions into opening it for them?”
“That would mean we have traitors here… Not good. All of you, make sure to investigate any suspicious minions under you. Tepes, inform Hecate to do the same when she comes back.”
“Sure,” Jessica said as everyone nodded.
“Other than that, we can’t do much until they reveal themselves again. For now, keep an eye out and report anything that could be amiss,” the armored man commanded. “Dismissed.”
As the meeting broke up, Merdis made his way to his side of the castle, still thinking about his daughter. Slowly but surely, he came to realize that the pride he had felt for her at first had turned into something more. Respect.
She was doing an incredible job managing her division, apparently had an entire spy network reporting to her, worked together with the demon lord on their secret project, and was formidable in battle on top of that.
It reminded him of his wife. Ever the overachiever, just like her.
In the meantime…
Over on Tepes' side of the castle, the general in question let out a tired sigh as she plopped down in front of her desk. All the other members of the ‘spy network’ – that was to say, just Max and Cody – were already there, waiting for her to come back from the evil demon meeting of evilness, as Jessica liked to call it.
Truth be told, no matter how much she put on airs in front of everyone, Jessica was barely keeping things together in her division and this supposed ‘spy network’ was really just herself, Max, and Cody hanging out with the magical girls from time to time and chatting at school.
“You alright?” Cody asked.
“Yeah, yeah. Work just keeps piling up,” he said before she peered at him. “Speaking of, you wouldn’t happen to know who kept our secret interdimensional portal open and let some rogue demons through, would you?”
Cody froze for a second.
“Err… Well, that’s a good question. I wonder who did that?”
Tepes pinned him with a gaze for a good few seconds before closing her eyes, turning to Max, and clapping her hands with a smile. “Anyway! How’s training camp been treating you, Max?”
“It’s… alright. Iris said I’ve already picked up on everything important. Now I just need some practical experience fighting alongside everyone else.” Jessica couldn’t see behind their mask, but she still knew Max was smiling.
“Ah, yes. Teamwork. An essential part of being a shining beacon of hope. I could maybe help you all with that. We could have a mock battle somewhere secluded.” Jessica nodded to herself as she pulled off her mask. “It’s a shame that I need to keep you in the dark about almost everything now, though… Ah, well.”
“It’s fine,” Max said. “I don’t mind that much.”
Max did clearly mind, Jessica could tell, but she wouldn’t call them out on it. Nor would she call them out on how excited Max always sounded talking about being one of the magical girls despite trying to sound neutral.
It was quite unusual to see Max so full of life and enthusiasm… but it was a good thing. After all the floundering and messing up, it made Jessica feel like she had done at least some good with this whole double agent demon thing. Even if she hadn’t really done anything directly herself in this case.
She was a tiny bit jealous that Max got to be a magical girl, but she didn’t dwell on it too much.
After all, if everything went well and she managed to figure out how to transfer the attunement, she would become the fifth magical girl.