Surely you're crazy
Good god was this is a long chapter. Probably the longest one in the series so far!
Anyway, it was pretty good!
Have fun with it~
「Demon lords…? Did you just say demon lords?」
Crisca floated a smile.
A strange smile on that beautiful appearance of hers.
Even like that, her eyes had a hint of aggressiveness in them, to the point where the term, a rose with thorns fit her very well.
「Not to mention 20 of them」
「Without a doubt」
「――In my grasp」
Crisca’s eyes that seemed to have a strange light in them stared directly into Hasim’s eyes.
As if she were trying to find the smallest hint of hesitation in the depths of his eyes, those were the kind of eyes she had.
Not once did Hasim look away from Crisca’s eyes.
He looked directly back into Crisca’s eyes with his aqua blue eyes.
If you looked at it another way, it might seem like a romantic atmosphere between two lovers looking deep into each others eyes but, in reality, the air between the two was considerably more deadly and felt like they were staring daggers into each other.
Especially for Hasim, it felt like Crisca’s gaze could directly lead him to death.
If they couldn’t form an alliance here then Lemuse would definitely collapse.
As far as Hasim was concerned, that was the same as Hasim himself dying.
「――What proof do you have?」
「I want to show it to you but, I can’t do that right now」
「Now then, what do you mean by that?」
「I’ve already sent them over to attack Mūzeg」
「You’re rather quick huh, Hasim. Such arrangements even before you form an alliance? Normally, after the alliance is formed, the four of us would sit down together and then decide on where to send the demon lords right?」
At Crisca’s overbearing words, Hasim snorted scornfully
Muran and Fasalis, who were sitting next to her noticed that Crisca was a little annoyed.
「There’s no need」
「What do you mean?」
「――There’s no need for that Crisca. Have any of you ever won, even once, against that 『Brad』?」
It was like a provocation from Hasim. No, by now it was a clear provocation.
Crisca who had spouted combatant words till then, suddenly felt a sense of defeat.
While she was looking for an opening to thrust her suspicions in, the other side ended up attacking in an unexpected manner.
Thinking of herself as the 『attacking side』, at the unexpected counter she couldn’t help but draw back a little.
And with the next words she was at a loss.
Hasim did not let that opening go.
Before Crisca could speak any further, he started to rapidly question her.
「Would the strategy of people who couldn’t win even once against that Brad be of any use?」
Hasim spread both his arms and tried to make himself look much bigger while he spoke to Crisca.
「――No. It’s not, Crisca」
The way he spoke was the very incarnation of disrespect.
The incarnation of arrogance.
However, since it was all true, Crisca couldn’t blame Hasim at all.
While Hasim’s aggressiveness could be seen as absurd but it was based on a firm truth.
In other words, the only one who had ever taken the upper hand in strategy against that Serius Brad Mūzeg was the man in front of them, Hasim.
That fact was heavy on Crisca’s lips.
Even if she tried to say something, that weight would act like a lid on her lips.
「If we cooperate a good idea would come up? ――That’s wrong, strategy is not something like that.
Coming up with ideas is definitely a useful. Having a wide range is a wonderful thing. ――『However』, only when the 『ideas have some possibility』 does that situation arise. If we start with impossible ideas from the beginning and incorporate them into our strategy, then that would be a sure shot road to a colossal failure. We would be converting a success into a failure」
「Y, you’re just saying whatever you want…! Now that you mention it, sarcasm and a harsh tongue were always something you prided yourself in wasn’t it!」
Even Crisca couldn’t continue to listen to Hasim’s rude speech anymore and unintentionally words of abuse rose up.
Along with her good looks, she had a look of pure anger, the first thing that anger did was remove the weight on her lips.
Hasim on the other hand did not change his expression much. That smile filled with cynicism remained the same.
However, Hasim did not say anything.
『Try saying something』 was what could be felt from Crisca’s expression while she waited for his words.
Crisca had a strange feeling like she had been hurried on one hand but on the other hand she felt like she had been gone easy on.
Over and above everything else, the feeling that he had the initiative in the conversation caused her to feel a sense of irritation welling up.
「…Damn it! This is the first time I’ve been so angry at myself for not being able to answer!」
However, in the end, Crisca could only abuse Hasim for his harsh words but couldn’t actually deny the contents of what he had said.
She then turned a venomous gaze at Hasim and asked him,
「…Do you really have a plan? If we use the power of those demon lords, can we really rival Mūzeg and that Serius?」
Since she couldn’t reply to Hasim’s earlier words, she had no choice but to join in on the premise.
「It’s possible」, replied Hasim.
It was an immediate answer.
Hasim did not miss that Crisca seemed to be tilting towards giving her approval for the alliance.
So that he did not miss that opportunity, he once again spoke in a firm tone.
「Which is why I moved quickly. ――Well, it’s not like I’m denying all of your strategies. However, I did not have much time left to put 『my strategy』 into effect. That was why, even though I felt bad about it, I still went ahead and prioritized that plan」
This time Hasim 『pulled back』.
Since he didn’t have time, he prioritized his own plan. That being the logic behind his actions, he based it on the 『truth』 earlier.
Be that as it may, even while pulling back, Hasim still pushed through on the points that he felt he had to.
「――Is that so」
That being the case, Crisca found herself between a rock and a hard place.
As an alliance partner, Hasim had set up Crisca quite well. He even managed to fill up that opening she had to push her doubt in and made it impossible for her to speak any further on that topic.
He had buried that opening with a rather strong 『truth from experience』.
If looked at calmly, it was clear that, that negotiation had an air of a battle.
Crisca, as one of the three kings, was smart enough to see that.
By the time she noticed it, it had already finished.
With just a moment’s opening, she, who had her hands full in trying to dodge the provocation filled attack instead had her armour attacked.
Having finally dodged that attack, she thought 「This time I definitely shall」 but in front of her eyes were a firm and rather suspicious logic filled heavy armour infantry.
Even so, it didn’t seem like her sword could penetrate that armour.
Then, with the other side just crossing over the line known as alliance the match would be over.
――I’ve been done in quite cleverly.
Words, expressions, tone of voice, gestures, it felt like she was manipulated quite well with various things.
In the end, the feeling welling up in Crisca’s heart was such a sense of defeat.
In the first place, this wasn’t a situation of winning or losing. If the situation was looked at as a whole then the basis for the match had been a feeling of friendship but even then, a 『I lost』 kind of feeling seemed to permeate through Crisca.
However, just because she was frustrated she couldn’t stay quiet forever.
She determined herself and opened her mouth.
「――Understood. …Definitely right? You’ll definitely be able to scare the hell out of Mūzeg right?」
「Yeah, of course. It won’t just end in scaring Mūzeg either. Using this as an opportunity, we’ll build up a powerful force in the eastern part of the continent that can stand against Mūzeg. If we let their tyranny go any longer then the continent won’t last very long and would definitely collapse. In order to save the various countries, we need the current victory」
Gracefully and relaxedly but still powerfully.
With the perfect tone of voice, Hasim spoke.
At that moment, Crisca once again confirmed that the match had been decided.
「…Understood. Zuria shall also agree to Lemuse’s entry into the alliance」
While being slightly dejected, Crisca spoke to Hasim.
The earlier rose with thorns kind of expression disappeared and a pouting girl’s expression showed itself on her face.
Seeing that, Hasim floated a carefree smile and laughed loudly.
「Haha, seriously Crisca. Are you still upset at losing in an argument with me? As usual, your looks are that of a beautiful woman but the insides are still quite childish huh?」
「Sh, shut up! Even like this I’m working really hard! My vassals keep saying annoying things like 『Be more solemn』 or 『You must not get angry like a spoilt child like that』!
That’s why I’ve been working really hard!」
「Ah, ah, got it got it」
「Y, you! You’re not even seriously listening to me are you?! You’re always like that! Even at that time――」
「Got it, so I’ll listen to you later okay? Later」 (TL: Am I the only one who ships Crisca and Hasim?)
Handling Crisca who was yelling loudly, Hasim looked at the last man who was left.
At that large firm frame, the king of Filarfia, Fasalis.
「The one left over is you huh, Fasalis」
At Hasim’s words and gaze, Fasalis replied with a sound which was very reminiscent of an animal’s growl.
「Looking at how you are, it seems like it’ll be impossible to make you agree like with Muran and Crisca huh」
「I’m mostly inclined to an approval. However, compared to those two, I’m more on the careful side after all」
「It’s possible that your presence is what has kept the Alliance of Three Kings going so far. These two are excellent but have a rather unrestrained nature」
「You’re mostly like that too, Kudo. ――No, Hasim」
With an unrestrained relaxed look, Fasalis looked straight at Hasim.
Even though he had his arms relaxedly placed on the table, you could feel a wall stronger than around Crisca.
「The thing I’m worried about is what comes after victory」
「What comes after victory?」
Fasalis waited for the right moment and then started speaking.
「Victory. Yeah, with enough magic cannons and your tactics, we have enough to win against Mūzeg. However, 『everything is over after victory』 is not how this would end」
「What do you mean?」
At Hasim’s question, Fasalis nodded once before he answered.
「…First, Mūzeg is not small enough to collapse after a single war」
「No matter whether we have the magic cannons or not, if we consider the difference between our military strength then finishing Mūzeg off in one go is impossible. Of course, winning against them in a war would give us the advantage when it comes to political maneuvers but it would also give them the opportunity to fight back. In the end we all need to survive」
「The problems starts after that, Hasim. Assuming we do win against them closely. The other side wins out in ability. I’m not talking about the ability of strategy or tactics here.
I’m talking about their ability as 『an entire nation』. In other words, 『the ability to bounce back from the war』 is something that the other side is overwhelmingly above us in. That’s how many people Mūzeg has」
Even Hasim understood that well.
The territory of the state, resources and not to mention human resources is something that Mūzeg had an extremely large quantity of.
It was to the point where it wasn’t even clear if Lemuse and the three kingdoms banded together, they would even be equal to Mūzeg.
With the current progress, Mūzeg had spread its territory to the north and west.
「When we win with a small margin, however, we’ll end up with injuries too. Since we’re discussing winning, so if we look at it as a whole, we would have the small wounds but tell me, who do you think would bounce back faster from their wounds?」
「If we look at it as a whole, it would most likely be Mūzeg. We might be very intimate but at the end of the day, we are still independent nations. Over and above anything, as kings we would want to prioritize our own countries」
Muran would prioritize the kingdom of Kushana.
Crisca would prioritize the kingdom of Zuria.
Fasalis would prioritize the kingdom of Filarfia.
And Hasim would prioritize the kingdom of Lemuse.
They would first think of it.
They have no choice but to think of it first.
That is their duty as a ruler.
「Which is why, when that time comes, I’ll prioritize my country above everything else so that it can be returned to its former self. However, we can’t catch up to Mūzeg who have a higher ability. So, in that situation, we who are adjacent to Mūzeg would be the ones who first get 『revenge』 taken on.
If we were to have revenge taken on us without the wounds of battle healing, I don’t expect us to survive much after that」
「What are you trying to say?」
At Hasim’s straightforward question, Fasalis answered immediately.
His large mouth spun words with a tone of voice tinged with coercion.
「――I want a 『guarantee』. Lemuse is in the depths so it can use the three countries as a wall」
「Yeah, that’s true」
Hasim did not deny that fact. If the geography was looked at, it was rather obvious after all.
「Hasim, I want to guarantee concentrated help from your country, for my country’s sake」
Hasim heard Fasalis’ words and floated a small smile.
It wasn’t a smile for anything funny but, instead it was a warlike smile which came as a precursor to him trembling with excitement.
Most likely, amongst the three kings, Fasalis was the one who was most proficient in negotiations.
Muran managed to attain profit for his country by securing a source of magic stones.
Crisca considers the entire three countries as her home and got a commitment from Hasim.
However, that wasn’t something limited to Zuria alone.
If the perspective was changed, it could be said that Crisca was the only one who gained nothing from this and in fact, made a loss. ――Simply because she didn’t manage to secure any particular profits for her own country.
In the same light, Fasalis was the definitely the most excellent.
Hasim was sure of that internally.
Fasalis was trying to protect his country as his first priority, in other words, he was trying to get the 『reconstruction priority』 from Hasim.
In the end, the three countries are part of an alliance.
They definitely aren’t 『one nation』.
Whether their decision was the right one as a king or not was probably in that one point.
That was why Hasim smiled.
He was glad to find out that, inside one of the people who he would soon work with, was a king who he could approve.
Of course, Hasim had his own preparations.
「All right, Fasalis. ――I shall 『give it to you』」
「The current Lemuse, as well as――the 『future Lemuse』」
On that day, in front of the three kings, a〈Mad King〉 was about to be born.
The man who would have future historians give an extremely divided opinion on, on that day said the first words that would contribute to those opinions.
Although future historians were divided on their opinions of his words but there was one point that all the historians seemed to be in agreement of.
『In any event, he was crazy in more ways than one』
「The future Lemuse?」
At Hasim’s words, Fasalis unintentionally tilted his neck in confusion.
「That’s right, the future Lemuse as well」
「Let’s hear the details」
「It’s not really that complicated a talk」
Hasim said, rather calmly.
「If we’re only able to attain an 『unsatisfactory victory』 against Mūzeg then I’ll give you the entirety of Lemuse. ――『The entirety』 of it. The current Lemuse as well as――」
「The Lemuse that would be born from here on out, including all the people in it」
Fasalis realised the meaning of Hasim’s words faster than anyone else.
At the same time, he saw a terrifying shadow on Hasim.
「Everything, Fasalis. The current Lemuse has put all of its hopes onto me. It’s probably the result of me quietly doing all the administrative tasks without my father finding out. If I stood out too much then Mūzeg would end up finding out after all. So I’ve been holding back lately but, even then as far as the citizen’s of Lemuse are are concerned, I’m a source of hope for them.
Most probably, if I didn’t come here, the rumors would have reached you somehow or another. That’s how much the citizen’s consider me to be their light of hope」
Hasim’s speech was like one of the villainous demon lords of old.
Placing oneself in a high position and rule the others, being the personification of a mighty unique power.
Like the embodiment of arrogance, he talks in a way that absolutely justifies himself.
Even though he had absolutely no basis for his talks but even then the very fact that he was like a manifestation of the absolute confidence made you want to believe him unconditionally.
If you call it charisma then it was an atmosphere that screamed that, that is without a doubt what it was. That is the kind of air around Hasim.
「Since I’m in that kind of a position, depending on the way I do it I could manipulate the citizens without them ever finding out about it. I have that much skill in tricks and I’m rather good at acting as well.
That’s why, without the citizen’s finding out, I can serve you.
It will look like they are steps taken for the sake of Lemuse but in reality, it wouldn’t even be bothered with Lemuse’s future and would be the most supreme and free service…which I’ll give to you」
For a moment, Fasalis almost said those words aloud.
Hasim, who looked extremely serious about doing something like that ended up making Fasalis, as a ruler, feel an intense sense of fear.
「As long as I’m alive Lemuse will be like a slave to you. If we do that then your country, though small, would be able to use all the talented people in another country for your own sake. It would be like plundering another country without actually having to go to war with it」
He could see an illusion.
Is the man in front of him really the same human as himself?
Wouldn’t it make more sense if that man were not a human but a different 『something』?
「What do you think, this is a guarantee. As long as I am alive, you won’t need to worry about being betrayed. I’ll take any form of pledge that you want. I’ll give the entirety of Lemuse to you」
A rather suspicious voice had entered his ears.
It was the kind of voice that would bring about a pleasurable feeling but in that moment, Fasalis felt a sense of fear from the bottom of his heart.
He’s a demon lord.
For a moment, such words floated up in Fasalis’ mind.
――One of the villainous demon lords of old which were written in old books in an exaggerated manner was actually standing right here.
――Isn’t he instead the real demon lord?
Whether it was Fasalis, Muran or Crisca, when they saw Hasim’s smiling face as he made that high and mighty declaration, all thought the same thing.
「…Y, you’ll be resented, Hasim. The long history that Lemuse has been built on, the pride that it held, are you alone going to destroy that? ――Will you end up…destroying it?」
It would be accompanied by an undeniable heavy pressure.
The kingdom that was built by his ancestors, he alone would end up destroying the entire thing.
If that sort of a thing did happen, then there was no way that Hasim would reach〈Heaven〉safely.
He wouldn’t be allowed to ascend to heaven.
Being denounced by tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions or even tens of millions of citizens of Lemuse, even if he dies he wouldn’t be able to ascend and continue to suffer.
He would be separated from all other dimensions, the supreme loneliness.
He didn’t even know if it was okay to sum it up in those few letters of loneliness, that was how unique that darkness would be.
Something like that is impossible for a single human to do.
A single human could never bear to destroy the fruit of the labour of an enormous number of people and time.
『Humans don’t have that much strength』
If he were going to do something like that, then it would probably be better just to die.
「I’ll do it. I’ll do it, Fasalis」
However, as if having understood the unrest in Fasalis’ mind, Hasim spoke while keeping his aqua blue eyes fixed on Fasalis.
It was a scary gaze.
It was extremely straightforward and――honest.
「You’re insane, Hasim. That’s something that a king should never say. Are you going to turn your citizens into slaves with your own hands?」
「If we lose then it’s over. In that case, I might as well give them a false happiness. Well, 『ignorance is bliss』 after all.
If we don’t get a proper victory against Mūzeg in this war then Lemuse will collapse in the future.
In that case, in the end I’ll at least give them a false public peace.
If we lose we die. If we have a half-assed victory then we end up as ignorant slaves. So this is probably what it means to burn one’s bridges.
And those eyes――
Were something that Fasalis thought to look into but then stopped himself.
If his eyes weren’t laughing then Hasim was 『forcing』 himself. That was what he predicted.
However, if even his eyes were coloured in laughter then…
He would no longer be able to see his friend as his friend anymore.
Which is why Fasalis hesitated to look into his eyes for an answer.
「――So, what do you think Fasalis? Are you satisfied?」
Suddenly Hasim returned to the topic so Fasalis lifted his face up.
When he looked at Hasim, his face had returned to the clever expression he had a little while back.
He couldn’t see the madness from a little while back on his face at all.
Which is why, Fasalis also answered.
「…Yeah, it fits well as an answer to my demand」
Leaving out the fact of whether it was the right thing to do or not, when thought of rationally, Filarfia did get the priority for restoration.
Which is why, as a political negotiation it was a success.
In the first place, if he had smiled at nodded when it was first suggested, he wouldn’t have had to go through this suggestion.
However, Fasalis thought that he and Hasim were close so he ended up being concerned about Hasim’s way of doing things.
――Am I just too naive?
Since it was Hasim, he probably thought of all of this before he spoke in the way he did.
In fact, Fasalis wanted to believe that, that was the case.
Coercion, fear, insanity, flattery.
Most probably, all of that were measures after carefully taking Fasalis’ cautious nature into account.
――…Please be so.
That thought quietly swayed in Fasalis’ heart.
「Alright, then let’s get it in writing. Let’s quickly conclude the〈Alliance of Four Kings〉and get discussing about the war」
Ignoring Fasalis, Hasim briskly took out a seal from his bosom and taking a paper from Aisha who had been standing to the side, he quickly stamped his seal into it. It seemed to be some form of a contract.
After just concluding this kind of a talk, he was already looking at the next one.
He was like a huge dragon who was only looking to the front and continued to push his way through.
That man could probably, very easily set up a coup d’etat and take over from that foolish king.
Looking at Hasim who had an expression that said, 『everything went according to my expectations』 while he took matters forward, the three kings had absolutely no complaints.