「So, this is falling towards the east right? Though it looks like it’s about time that it falls apart」
「It’ll reach the base of the mountain. I estimated that much before I made this ship. It’s just that, the gold peeling off, happened slightly sooner than expected so I was just slightly shocked. Don’t look down on it! The power of money! Don’t look down on it!!」
「A, ah, no, even if you’re that forceful...It’s not like I’m looking down on it…」
The〈Alchemy King〉Shaw, quickly approached the〈Fist Emperor〉Salman with a convincing expression.
The previously chaotic ship had also calmed down quite a but and as they got closer to the foot of the mountain, the slope became considerably more gently. Due to this, their speed fell as well and the unevenness of the slope reduced quite a bit as well.
Afterwards, with an 『as far as we can go』 feeling, they borrowed the powers of the ice and water techniques of the twins and had the ship descend further.
「....So, what do we do after we get to from the mountain? We somehow managed to get past the main force of Mūzeg’s army but if we keep going towards the east like this, Mūzeg’s country itself would be there. In the surroundings, the countries of their alliance are also there…」
As soon as he said it, as if he remembered something, Salman added to his own words.
「...No, there are also the〈Three Countries〉which have separated from Mūzeg huh. But, those three countries are much deeper in...there’s also the problem of them being next to Mūzeg…」
「Besides, though you can say that those three countries have gotten independence from Mūzeg but, in the past, they have been known to force Demon Lords to go to war and had them die for their countries. Though there is the issue of them being right across a plain from Mūzeg but over everything else, the problem is that, in the past they have participated in actions similar to Demon Lord hunting. That would probably be the biggest obstacle for us」
Replying to Salman’s words was Shaw, who added further information. Unlike his previous appearance, he had an extremely serious expression.
「Heyy...Every direction is much the same but, isn’t the east, especially messed up right now? ...Isn’t there any decent place we can go to…?」
Salman went through these thoughts over and over and as if he had gone a full circle, he stopped a heaved a heavy sigh.
The other Demon Lords also seemed to be deep in thought and they all, one by one, showed a thoughtful expression before groaning.
Shaw, who had been paying attention to those expression. Though he had his own thoughts on the matter, considering he was one of the people to decide on running to the east but, he still kept quiet and waited to see if the other Demon Lords had any other ideas.
If they were able to come up with a better idea, he would, without a moment’s hesitation, choose that.
「Fundamentally speaking, we can’t let our guards down with any countries that are currently at war. If the situation worsens, they might just turn around and say, 『lend us your powers』. Though, 『lend』 might still be fine but the moment we refuse, it would just change to a 『hand it over』 and we’d be back to square one. Though it’s a horrible image but, it’s something that has a high chance of happening. ...At least if there was a place that would have a proper negotiation…」
Suddenly, the〈Flame Emperor〉Lilium, while scooping up her crimson hair, joined in on the conversation.
It seemed like her seasickness had abated considerably and her voice showed obvious signs of vigor.
Lilium seemed to be rather accepting of the fact that she was a Demon Lord, or at least that is what her words sounded like. More accurately, 『There’s no way for us to get away from wars』 was what she seemed to be saying in a roundabout fashion.
It was a truth that was hard to accept. Though it was hard to accept, her objectivity was indeed rational. No matter how much they whine, the label of Demon Lord would not disappear. In the worst case, they might have to use their powers as a Demon Lord as compensation.
All of that, in an effort to obtain a 『place to belong』 which could help them get rid of any evil reaching out to them.
At the very least, the minimum requirement that the Demon Lords were looking for, was a place that wouldn’t just start killing them off as and when they felt like it.
Of course, the ideal place would be one, that let them live their lives peacefully without having to fight all the time. However, in the current situation, that would just be a dream within a dream.
If they kept relying on such a dream, they would definitely end up deceived and over and above that, being careless like that would only hurt them. In that case, it would be better to let go of those rose-tinted glasses and face the situation in a more objective way. That would definitely lead to a considerably higher chance of surviving in the future.
In that sense, Lilium was quite rational.
Lilium’s words ended up destroying the empty hopes that the other Demon Lords had and in one go, brought them face to face with a cruel reality.
Even though the majority of them had such groundless hopes, Lilium’s words may have felt like a spear passing right through them.
That spear destroyed the one place they had created which could help their hearts relax a little.
Even then, Lilium’s rational words were the right ones for the current situation.
A place that had the possibility of providing them with the 『anticipation』 of some hope is still fine but this kind of convenient 『dream』 would just lead all 22 of them into a situation where their very lives were in danger. That kind of a situation was quite close.
「Well, rather than being threatened, a negotiation is still considerably better」
Salman immediately understood what Lilium was trying to say and while accepting her intentions, he agreed with her.
「In exchange for keeping any threats away from you using the kingdom as a shield, when the time comes lend us your powers ――― or, so the countries would probably put out as a condition huh. In the end, it’s basically a quid pro quo situation that we desire the most huh」
As long as they are not betrayed.
It would be best if that country actually went through with their promises though. That was what Lilium wanted to add to that conversation but considering how her previous words had already brought the mood down considerably, she decided not to say anything. She felt that any further comments would have a horrible effect on the morale.
In exchange, she made an expression of giving up and said with a tone filled with sarcasm.
「...At the very least, even as a lie if they could say, 『If you don’t want to fight, it’s fine not to』. Doesn’t such a country exist I wonder? Recently, none of them even bother to tell any lies anymore. They just come up with eyes full of expectations」
「Honestly. There are too many vulgar people around」
「Especially Mūzeg. They just put their hands on any woman they want to」
Salman floated a bitter smile at Lilium’s words.
「...Well anyway, we don’t really have much time left」
He said so after taking a look at the scenery outside the window. The scenery he could see outside was slowly getting clearer. That was proof that the speed was continuously falling.
「Saru~, I don’t think it’ll slide anymore」 「Saru~」
The twins who had their bodies hanging out of the window, deploying their techniques, pulled themselves back and with the same movement swept their long azure hair back and look over at Salman.
「Oi, stop calling me that」
「But, Saru~」 「Saru, Saru~」
Salman couldn’t even find the strength to scold the twins and just heaved another sigh. Though he did think that he would scold them later but they first had to quickly decide on their next destination before the ship stops moving and so, he let go of his thoughts to lecture the twins.
And so, various opinions were dished out on their next destination. Finally, Shaw who was examining all the opinions thought,
――I guess it’s about time now.
Since there were no opinions which would have him jumping at it and the ship had also started slowing down/ In that case, he felt that it was the right time for him to put out his opinion and opened his mouth. However, his words were interrupted by an unexpected person.
The one who knew the least about this world, Merea, while suppressing a groan, joined the conversation.
There was only the name of one country in Merea’s memories.
『In case you’re troubled over your destination, first head over to the kingdom of Lemuse』
Merea only had those words in his memories. It was apparently something that Flander had said, or so he was told by the sky dragon Cortista.
――He probably guessed that I would end up becoming a Demon Lord huh.
That was probably why he left behind such words. About that point, Merea was extremely sure.
He already found himself in such a situation so there was no doubt about it.
In any case, he remembered such words so, he resolved himself and decided to suggest it.
「Hey, how about the〈Kingdom of Lemuse〉?」
「Hah!」, reacted the other Demon Lords. 「Now that he mentions it, there was such a country huh」 The other demon lords made expressions as if they just remembered something they had long since forgotten.
However, in the next instant, a shadow fell over their faces. At the same time, a majority of their faces clouded over.
「Ah...Lemuse huh. Lemuse would be...a bit tough. Ah no, considering this situation, Lemuse would prove to be a better option though…」
The first one to reply to Merea’s question was Salman.
「Certainly, in a previous age, they were an 『idiotic and naive country』 that would shelter Demon Lords who ran away. But, that’s a talk of an age gone by. The current king is apparently horrible」
Merea tilted his head to one side.
「Yeah. I’m not too clear on the situation in the east but, even then, I have still heard about how horrible the political abilities of the current king of Lemuse are. It’s nothing but a rumor but, he’s apparently already trying to become one of Mūzeg’s subordinates. Though it’s nothing but a rumor but the very fact that such a rumor started just goes to show how horrible the situation at Lemuse is now」
「But, Lemuse is still surviving even now right?」
「Kinda on the edge. At best, it’s almost dead」
At Salman’s words, as if agreeing with it, all the others heaved a sigh. Seeing everyone’s reactions, Merea thought, 「So it was no good after all huh」. However, one of the people in the group spoke up, supporting Merea’s idea.
「Since we have no other place to go to, it might be good to first head over to Lemuse」
It was Marisa. With both hands near her knees, with her spine complete straight, she spoke up without the slightest hesitation or the slightest fear at giving a different response to the other Demon Lords.
「Lemuse is is far south of Mūzeg and even compared to the three countries, it’s in a much better location. If we take a large detour, we might even succeed in evading Mūzeg completely. Over and above that, once we enter Lemuse and if we feel that, 『this won’t work』, we could just leave Lemuse and sneak into the three countries. As the place to head towards as a first resort, Lemuse would definitely be the place with the slightest amount of hope left over. So it would be the most ideal.
...Also, even if the current Lemuse said something like, 『Hand over your powers』, we could very well just crush them. Unlike Mūzeg, there is plenty of room for resistance and at the worst, it would still end up with buying enough time」
Marisa’s clear voice rang throughout that stagnant atmosphere. Hearing her words, shivering voices were raised here and there, 「Her main reason seems to be the last one…」 or 「that maid is scary…」 were heard.
Also, Shaw spoke up as well, supporting Marisa’s words. In the end, other than the place Shaw himself had in mind, no other decent proposal was offered so, rather than supporting, it would be said that he was going with the only option available.
「Well, I feel that Lemuse has some possibilities. Although that feeling has some hopes involved as well but, it is still much better. They have a considerably higher chance of taking us in, compared to countries that proactively hunt Demon Lords. It was so in the past and compared to countries that don’t even have that kind of a record, it’d become a basis for our choice. ...well, with a lot of difficulty」
In reality, the fact that, that option had almost been eliminated, was something he could not deny. That was why, Shaw himself, had an ironic smile when he thought of that option that he had thought of. However, he did not think that, that option was mistaken. Compared to the various other options they had, this one was definitely better. Having judged that, he made this decision.
That being the case, if Merea had not mentioned Lemuse, then he himself would have brought it up. Since Merea had already mentioned it, it was now his job to be in the supporting role and help him out. Marisa may have also had the same intentions or it may be that she said what she did in order to prevent a rift between the Demon Lords or so Shaw thought.
「That’s...right huh. Unexpectedly, that may not be so bad. Just like the money-grubber said, they do have some achievements in the past. It’s not like we can hold absolutely no expectations from them. Also, what Marisa said, 『in the worst case, we’d have some room to resist』 isn’t wrong either」
Salman seemed to think for a few seconds before he nodded and spoke. He then, with exaggerated movements and gestures, as if telling a joke, he continued.
「...Honestly, while we’re headed to Lemuse, it’d be amazing if there was a revolt or a coup d’etat and the king changes. While they’re at it, It would be best if Lemuse changes back to the Lemuse of the past」
「That’s quite the convenient prediction huh, Salman」
Lilium said with an amazed expression.
「The internal affairs are falling apart right? It would be about the right time for a revolt to take place」
「That’s true too but, even if they did do a revolt, the moment Mūzeg gets past the three countries to get to Lemuse, it’d be all over for them. In fact, the chaotic situation after the revolt, would basically be saying 『come swallow me up』 to the other countries. Well, if there is a revolt and the one who does it is someone as idiotically naive and noble as the kings of Lemuse of the past, then there may be some nice changes though.」
「You also seem to have quite the rich imagination huh」
「...oh shut up」
「Well then, the plan is to first head over to Lemuse right?」
Merea who had been watching the quarrel between Salman and Lilium with a smile on his face, asked with a doubtful expression.
Hearing Merea’s question, the other Demon Lords nodded. Apparently, after Marisa and Shaw’s support, they had also accepted this proposal.
「Okay. ….Alright, let’s head toward Lemuse then」
Merea looked at all their expressions, gazes and nods and as the consensus, he decided. Although Merea had no intentions to be in control but in the end, that is what it ended up looking as.
「Well now, you’re looking more and more like the Master of Demon Lords」
「Master of Demon Lords?」
Salman suddenly said that looking at Merea. He had stopped his quarrel with Lilium partway to say that to Merea. Merea on the other hand tilted his head. He had an expression that said, that he had absolutely no idea what Salman was talking about.
「Kind of like the head of the household. We left the final decision up to you at that time after all. You may not think so but, we all ended up putting our burdens on your shoulders. However, even though we thought it was unfair to you but, we still felt that it would be better if the leadership fell to you」
The Demon Lords quarrelling amongst themselves is probably the worst possible situation. Even now, they are probably on guard against each other. Even in that situation, somehow or the other, they ended up cooperating. Mainly because they knew that the 『power to decide』 wasn’t with them.
If anyone felt even the slightest bad impression of anyone in the group, it would definitely lead to a very awkward situation. That situation would spread and in the end, they would all end up going their separate ways.
Most probably, the fact that they are all Demon Lords, isn’t yet enough to soothe any contentions that may creep up.
『People who are being hunted』 as well as fellow 『Demon Lords』, they held a feeling of empathy. It was an extremely strong feeling of empathy, however, they had no relations as 『individuals』.
――Don’t think about it.
At least not until we manage to run away.
In case they end up going their separate ways now, they would then end up, steadily, being hunted by Mūzeg or Saisalis and die. Salman forcefully got rid of such thoughts.
「Until we reach a safe place, there’s a need for someone to hold onto the rights to decide for everyone. ...Not to mention, well, you have a maid right there right. Don’t you seem more and more like a master now?」
「That’s a horrible naming you know…」
「Lilium, you really do like to retort to everything huh」
「Well, it’s true isn’t it?」
The two of them started having another quarrel and that topic was left halfway.
――To think it would be 『Master of Demon Lords』...
Merea suddenly remembered about the future stone that he had once gripped.