「Alright, the others have returned as well so I guess I’m done for now」
Several minutes after Salman started to work with the frying pan and Merea horsed around with the younger of the twins――〈Ice King〉Mina, several demon lords entered the kitchen while talking in faint voices.
The moment they noticed their lord they quickly raised a hand in greeting and walked over to a chest placed in one corner of the kitchen.
Inside it, there were several aprons that looks similar to the one worn by Salman and those demon lords took one each and wore them.
「It’s quite nice that there are so many who can handle cooking well」
「Saru alone is quite capable of handling it all himself though. He’s almost as skillful as Marisa after all」
One of the demon lords point at the sandy haired demon lord handling a frying pan while he spoke.
「It’s just a coincidence. I’ve never been bad at it either. ――Well, it was just just the right opportunity to cook after such a long time. I ended up finding a really interesting second-hand book shop in Lemuse recently」
Salman replied calmly without turning his head.
「Since we’re able to stay in a country normally, so I’m able to calm down and read a book. That alone is quite the good luck in my opinion」
Only after he continued with those words did Salman take a moment to turn his gaze towards Merea for a quick glance.
「Well, it’s fine for me to do it while there are no others to take care of it but, I am a member of〈Sword (Emery)〉after all. Making sure I can use my magic fist even better is something like a duty of mine. Once more people join, I want to leave this work to those who are more adept at it」
Merea nodded in reply to Salman’s words.
「The magic fist in itself is quite the troublesome ability. It’s not as clear as the techniques that you practitioners employ」
「It’s even been called an impaired seven imperial but, not only is it impaired but it even went off in a weird direction. Even the guy who made it was not sure what the hell he ended up making either. I’ll omit the details because it’s troublesome but, I would definitely have preferred it if the power was as clear as the seven imperials」
Salman raised his sleeve and looked at the tattoo like pattern carved on his arm with a wry smile.
「Anyway, it’s just that we, in the〈Sword (Emery)〉want to move as well」
「――Yeah. Shaw has come back as well so, there’s a high chance that he’s got some sort of information that could help. Now we just have to wait for the members of〈Knowledge (Lazlas)〉 to come back and see if they found any rumours related to demon lords or not」
Merea thought a little before he replied.
「So we have no other choice than to put our hopes them huh?」
「I really want to make some plans during the dinner party today. We can’t very well stay the way we are right now, spread all over the place. After that, the demon lords of〈Knowledge Lazlas)〉just need to come back with some rumours related to demon lords」
Salman shrugged in consent at Merea’s words.
Seeing that, Merea smiled faintly before he continued speaking. His expression had a hint of depression mixed into it this time around.
「As the one who is in charge of making the final decision of who moves where, unless I can be sure that everyone would be able to come back home safely no matter where I send them, I can’t help but feel scared」
Merea spoke those words in a faint voice while gently stroking Mina’s head while she played around near his feet.
The demon lords who had shown up to help Salman out, clapped Merea on his shoulder when they heard him speak and smiled at him.
「If we’re heading to places with demon lords then, it would be as a group at first right?」
「Yeah. If the number of people increases we can have them spread out more. ――Though, the number of people increasing would mean that the number of demon lords would be increasing so I’m not sure if I should be happy about it sad about it. It’s such a tough call」
「If you’re worried about stuff like that as well then your mind won’t be able to bear it you know?」
「Haha, that’s true isn’t it?」
Salman snorted causing Merea to smile in return.
The topic ended at that point.
「Alright, let’s be off then. I’ve already finished most of the seasoning and the preliminary work so the only thing left now is to arrange it. I’ll head over to the dining room first」
Salman put the frying pan down, took his apron off and heaved a sigh.
He turned his sight to Merea while simultaneously grabbing the〈Water Emperor〉Lina, who was stuck to his hip, by the scruff of her neck.
「Merea take Mina with you. If we leave these two here then they would be nothing but a hindrance」
「How rude!」 「How rude―!」
Merea held the younger sister, Mina to his side and,
「Well then, see you later」
They spoke a few words to the demon lords remaining in the kitchen and went off towards the dining hall.
Demon lords, who had already gotten used to such situations replied light as they returned to their work.
「Actually, it’s a bit of a problem that the ones good at cooking among the demon lords are men huh…」
「Pray that the next demon lord who shows up is a woman who’s good at cooking」
At Merea’s words, Salman dropped his shoulders dejectedly.
The evening of the same day.
Around the time when shops that specialized in dinner and certain types of theatres had their shops lit up in the night, demon lords could be seen walking together in the corridor of the star tree castle.
From the third floor to the second and from the second floor to the first, as they headed down, demon lords would come out of their respective rooms and join up with the crowd.
They were headed to a certain place.
With the demon lords who were outside having already joined up inside, there was a strange sense of restlessness inside the star tree castle.
The place that they were headed to was――
「Well then, let’s start the dinner party」
「Oi, that’s too light a greeting」
「It’s not our first time after all. Isn’t it fine to be simple now? I hate being stuffy as well」
「Well, I suppose that’s true too」
It was a room similar to the library with many candelabras and chandeliers decorating the room.
The place was in the back of the first floor.
Unlike the gaudy and horrendous design of the main hall, the current room has a calm design made with white stones.
Though, there were some gaudy sculptures on the long table in that room or the gaudiness of the carpet would also stand out but it could be said that the gaudiness of the room was a refreshing sight when compared to the subdued atmosphere of the rooms on the second and third floors.
At present, around 20 demon lords were seated on either side of the long table in that dining room.
In front of them, several plates filled with meat dishes giving off a strong fragrance could be seen.
Golden colour juices dripped out from the cuts in the meat and made the demon lords in the room, yearn for it.
Though it couldn’t be called luxurious in any sense of the word but the sight of the meat along with vegetables and grains giving off their unique colours definitely gave off a certain rich feeling.
「Well then, though I do want to exchange information with each other――」
A voice rang in the ears of the demon lords who looked like they were desperately trying to hold themselves back from stabbing their forks right into the food.
A clear voice that resounded pleasantly. ――It was Merea’s voice.
Unlike the demon lords who sat at the sides of the long table, Merea was sitting at the head of the table.The so called, highest position.
However, Merea, who was sitting at such a seat of honor, was carrying his silverware in his hands with an impatient look on his face that clearly showed that he couldn’t wait to eat.
「Let’s eat first though!」
Cheers were raised throughout the room.
Everyone said a word of gratitude before quickly digging into the food placed in front of them.
「Ah, red phosphorus serpent (Karlneka) is surprisingly tasty」
「I was the one who got that!」
「I get it, I get it. Elma is admirable―」
「A, are you making fun of me?!」
「Eh? Didn’t you want me to praise you?」
「――――Ju, just a little」
「Woah, she accepted that a little too quickly」
「Oh, this mutton is quite good as well」
「I’m the one who got that, you know?!」
「I get it, I get it. Shaw is――avaricious―」
「Isn’t your way of praising me a little strange?!」
「Eh? You’re happy though right?」
「――Well yes, I won’t deny that. Not to mention, I’ll be taking away a little of the allowance of every person who eats this mutton so you’re not wrong」
「Haha! I bought this as a trade good after all!」
「Say something like that first!」
「I’m the head of〈Wallet (Lister)〉after all」
「Who was it! The idiot who gave him authority?!」
The voices of several demon lords resounded together.
The dining hall was noisy. ――However, it was definitely not an irritating noisiness.
Just 20 minutes or so after the meal started, there were already several people who had finished eating.
However, they did not try to hurry the ones who were still eating and just waited patiently while chatting with everyone.
The ones eating slowly didn’t seem to be impatient and didn’t try to eat faster.
Mainly because, Merea, as their leader, was the slowest at eating.
「I have lived, a very poor life. So, when I get, tasty food, on occasion, I have decided to, properly savour it while eating」
「Don’t say that with such a forlorn look, I’ll end up getting depressed」
Salman replied to Merea with a pensive expression just as he was about to shovel more of the mutton with dripping meat juices.
「It’s good to chew your food properly, you know? I encourage that as a maid」
Marisa, who was sitting to Merea’s left, added to that conversation as she piled up leafy vegetables onto her plate.
「Fuu, I ate well―」
「Elma, chew your food a little more properly」
「Ehhh!? B, but, what if we’re attacked by an enemy while we’re eating――」
Having that suddenly pointed out by Marisa who was sitting right opposite to her, Elma had her shoulders jump in shock as she patted her stomach down.
「Haa…, your mercenary habits really do die hard don’t they?」
At that time alone, with her familiar way of addressing Elma, rather than a maid, Marisa felt more like Elma’s friend instead.
Though her cool and sharp gaze was the same as ever but now that they had come this far, she seemed to be able to put different kinds of emotions into her gaze in different situations.
「Muuu… I, I didn’t have that good an upbringing unlike Marisa after all」
「I didn’t have that good an upbringing either, you know?」
「Th, then! …huh, what’s so different about us then…?」
「Stop getting all teary eyed」
As Salman sighed and spoke in the end, Elma could be seen groaning with teary eyes.
「Or more like, you go out to hunt monsters quite a lot recently so can’t you somehow protect them and use them for something?」
While Elma was in deep contemplation about the differences they had in their ranks as women, Salman spoke up as if to change the topic.
「Ah, ahhh, I think so too but this time it was a subjugation request from the citizens of Lemuse after all. Moreover, this snake seems to have already eaten quite a few livestock already so there really was nothing I could do about it」
「Well, then there’s nothing that can be done about it I suppose. Just, if we ever have any vague requests than instead of just killing them off, it might be better to bring them over to our side instead」
「Since we already have Noel as well」
Suddenly Merea’s voice rang out.
Like a rodent, Merea stuffed his cheeks with food as he spoke.
「Now that you mention it, what’s Noel up to these days?」
Salman tilted his neck to the side and asked Merea.
「I’m letting him run free」
「What’s with that, really scary」
「It’s fine, I’ve made sure to tell him not to be seen by people. At first I even thought of moving him into the backyard of the star tree castle but he’s been growing a lot recently. So, I thought that I’d end up making him feel extremely cramped so I decided to take such measures instead」
「Isn’t Noel’s growth just insane? Is he really just a normal land dragon?」
「Hmm, I’m not really that knowledgeable when it comes to land dragons so I have the people of〈Knowledge (Lazlas)〉looking into that as well」
After speaking, Merea took another bite of his food and turned his gaze towards the head of〈Knowledge〉Lilium.
Lilium had been cutting through the meat on her plate with well mannered movements but as soon as she heard Merea’s words and felt his gaze on her, she stopped her movements and replied.
「I still don’t understand much. We don’t really have that many people to spare after all. Though I’ve left it to some of the other demon lords but we have no results as of yet」
「That so? It’s not really a matter that needs to be prioritised so even if we leave it be for the time being, it should still be fine in my opinion」
Merea swallowed the food in his mouth as he replied.
「In any case, I’ve had the soldiers of Lemuse teach me about the surroundings as well as the geography around Lemuse so we’ve already decided till where Noel can go out to」
「What about when we need him?」
「I’ll use the 『dragon roar』」
「It’s a roar that makes use of dragon tongue. It’s basically a signal that was created by dragons since they usually live in groups. Depending on the group the tone is slightly different and there are various types so it can only be used between Noel and I at the current time but if I have this, it would be fine whenever we need him」
「But, Noel is basically free everyday. Even if I don’t consider him to be a dragon but I really want to help him make one or two friends at the very least」
「Just what could even be friends with a dragon? A normal beast would be too scared to do anything. Just one roar and it would probably keel over」
「Hmm…., maybe a gryphon?」
Merea used the information of the fantasy animals from his previous life and spoke the first name that came to his head.
「Ahhh…, well, if you work really hard that might work」
Salman spent a moment to think about it before he replied.
「So it does exist huh?」
Feeling that sort of nuance in his speech, Merea’s curiosity was stoked as he spoke.
「Sure it does. It’s categorized as a rare species though」
「Though it’d be overshadowed by the land dragon (Reirnote). ――Or more like, it’s plenty strange to even be keeping a land dragon as a pet…」
Merea watched Salman hold his head with an amused expression on his face before he spoke.
「Then, should we try to bring such beasts to our side if we ever come across them? Of course, it would not be forcefully but rather if we ever come across a stray one or something along those lines」
「That’s true. But, if that’s the case then not limited to humans but with all kinds of different strays gathering in the castle, it somehow seems like it’d end up giving the very feeling of being a demon lord’s castle」
「We’ll make it through with the star tree castle」
Although Merea said that with a firm attitude, Salman just smiled bitterly and shrugged.
「In any case, it’ll be a problem to take care of them in the future so will you create a special group for them as well?」
「Something like〈Demon Lord’s Beast〉?」
「That’s such a dangerous sounding name」
「Haa…, demon lords themselves are dangerous to begin with so there’s no helping that」
「That’s so true」
「Someday, I’ll do something about the meaning of that word itself」
While talking, at some point, the food on Merea’s plate reduced to quite a small quantity.
As soon as Merea noticed that, he took a break from the conversation for a moment and quickly finished off the food on his plate.
Finally he chewed the food plentifully before he swallowed it.
He put his hands together and said, 「Thanks for the treat」 before turning his gaze towards the demon lords seated on either side of the long table.
「Yeah, so, let’s talk about this matter a little more from here on」
He nodded and decided to bring the place back in order.
Matching with his air, the demon lords turned towards Merea and looked at him with a serious gaze.
The idle chatter stopped abruptly.
「――I kept you waiting. Well then, let’s hear the report」
In such a way, a meeting of the entirety of〈Demon Lord’s Alliance (Mea Nessiah)〉started.