Chapter 85 - Chapter 13: The Right to Rule #4
The carriage was moving.
It was a huge carriage drawn by six horses but only two people were inside.
Elaine Moonlight, queen of the lycanthropes and the demon king’s 4th queen, and her younger cousin, Ludwig, leader of the Blood Companions.
Elaine’s expression was very calm as she stared out the window. Ludwig asked without knowing,
"Is it okay to not be there when she wakes up?”
There was no need to ask about who he was talking about. Elaine, who turned and saw the impatience and resentment on Ludwig’s face, closed her eyes like she was enjoying the sunshine.
"You’ve already checked on her several times now. I waited to the limit, but Caitlin was a little late this time. It is unfortunate.”
‘Would she be awake by now? It would have been really nice if I could have seen her awake.’
In contrast to her rigid words, Elaine’s voice was full of uneasiness. Ludwig couldn’t understand Elaine, his lord and cousin. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if she had waited a few more hours.
Elaine opened her eyes and spoke with a mischievous smile that resembled Chris.
"Can you tell me the story now? I originally planned to start after returning to the palace.”
The task of Ludwig, leader of the Blood Companions, wasn’t just to be Elaine’s escort. He served simultaneously as Elaine’s secretary and adviser and always had to be mindful of the three roles that he played.
"I’ve found the body of the fake Gerard in the east. It is obviously a lycanthrope but everything else is unknown. As expected, he killed himself.”
He used suicide after all avenues of escape disappeared.
It was the most extreme and effective way to prevent information from leaking.
Elaine pressed a hand to her temple and said,
"Regardless of whether it is the fake’s own capacity or a magic weapon from support forces, the fake Gerard has shown enough power to turn our attention to him. Moreover, he committed suicide after being caught. This is obvious, but there has to be a big organization behind this.”
It wasn’t inside the lycanthrope kingdom. The organization intervening was clearly from the outside.
Elaine bit her lip before turning her head abruptly. Her trustworthy and handsome cousin, who had all the female maids at the palace pining after him, had a dog-like expression on his face.
“Why? Do you want to say something?”
"How have they known about him?”
Ludwig was more curious about that than the identity of the external forces.
How had they found out? The fact that Gerard had been trapped in the lowest level of the Grey Tower was a secret.
"The information that Gerard was in the lowest level of the Grey Tower was top secret. It has been a secret for over 200 years.”
Even those in the Grey Tower were unaware that Gerard had been there.
The secret had been perfect and no leaks had existed.
However, Elaine didn’t think so. She leaned on the window and shook her head gently.
"Hundreds of people died due to Gerard. It happened overnight and occurred inside the palace, but... there was a crowd. There is no perfect secret in this world. One day, it would be discovered.”
In the end, she seemed to be talking more to herself, than to Ludwig.
Elaine’s expression was detached, but Ludwig was different. He remembered Caitlin and had to clench his teeth to stop the words from coming out.
Elaine laughed. She returned her cousin’s thoughts to the original story.
"They wouldn’t have freed Gerard for no reason. It would benefit them to harm the lycanthropes, but he kept his mind after being freed. Why did they let Gerard go and do his own thing?”
The most valuable use of Gerard was the fact that he was the former heir to the lycanthrope throne as well as Elaine’s brother.
They could use Gerard to cause confusion about the legitimacy of succession.
Yet none of those things seemed to be happening. Moreover, they didn’t control Gerard after he escaped. Perhaps, the organization had set Gerard’s actions into motion, but Elaine’s female intuition didn’t think that was the case.
Ludwig was much simpler.
"I feel that Gerard is alive.”
Disregarding the relationship with the external force, the fact that Gerard had fled was uncomfortable.
"He is really tough. He survived 20 years ago as well. I should have killed him at that time, but I fell into my bad habit.”
Ludwig once again thought that he had made a mistake. So, this time, he was the one who changed the topic.
“What do you think of 9th Prince?”
The switch was sudden, but Elaine just smiled. She knew why her loyal royal guard had changed the subject.
"Do you like him? I was quite surprised since I had seen him once before. At that time... how should I say it? I almost felt like he had no soul. Well, that was in the old days.”
It had been 7 years since she had last seen him. It had been a difficult time for the 9th Prince. Maybe Elaine had been mistaken.
Elaine touched her chin and nodded.
"Ludwig, you saw him. What are your thoughts?”
Ludwig had been watching In-gong and Elaine while they had been talking. Regardless of how much Chris trusted the 9th Prince, it was absurd to let the defenseless Caitlin stay there with no supervision.
"I don’t know what I saw, but...”
Ludwig mumbled with a somewhat embarrassed face.
"It seems like he really cares about Chris and Caitlin.”
He had seen it when In-gong looked at Caitlin.
Elaine laughed at her cousin’s reply. It was just like Chris’ laugh.
"That isn’t what I’m talking about. Do you think he can really become the demon king?”
"He isn’t a lycanthrope. I don’t want to be hit in the back of the head.”
Despite all of this, 9th Prince was still an outsider. It was like letting someone else inside the cuckoo’s nest where babies had just been born.
Ludwig realized that his posture was uncomfortable and fixed it. Elaine was still smiling when he turned to face her and asked,
"Does Queen really think that 9th Prince can become the demon king?”
"Chris thinks so. So, I think so as well.”
Instead of responding, Elaine stretched out a hand toward Ludwig. He sighed and pulled out a metal box containing cigarettes. Elaine received the cigarette with a satisfied expression and lit it up with magic. She then said,
"I know the demon king. I don’t think I know all of him, but there is something I am sure about.”
The demon king, Mitra...
King of the sura and the strongest person in the Demon World.
"There is always a reason for his behaviour and that reason is far from his emotions.”
Elaine stopped talking as she inhaled the smoke again. She remembered when she had last been with him, a few years ago.
"He isn’t someone who would disrupt the court gathering twice for no reason. He must have seen something in 9th Prince that we couldn’t see.”
No, she had probably seen it. She didn’t know what it was, but she had clearly seen something.
Ludwig shook his head like it was ridiculous.
"They are still father and son, so we still don’t know. His attitude towards his children might have changed as he aged.
A father calling the name of his son wasn’t that special. If the unlikely son suddenly showed some potential, it was natural for his parents to cheer him on.
Elaine stared at Ludwig with a bemused expression and laughed.
"You have always liked children. You played well with Chris and Caitlin when they were young.”
"The two of them are still young.”
Ludwig said stiffly. Elaine pinched her cousin’s cheek and said,
"The demon king isn’t like that. He is a monster of rationality. It is obvious that there is emotion, but it works differently from us.”
Elaine put out her cigarette. She looked up reflexively at Ludwig and asked,
"Among the children of the demon king... Yes, for example, if Zephyr became strong enough to kill the demon king and inherit the throne, what do you think the demon king will say before he is killed?
"This bastard? Are you immoral? Won’t you be cursed?”
Ludwig spoke directly and Elaine laughed again. Then Ludwig muttered with a red face,
“That is a common reaction.”
"Yes, it is common. However, the demon king’s reaction would probably be uncommon. He would probably be pleased at the birth of a demon king more powerful than himself. He is that type of person.”
The strongest man in the Demon World who had ascended to the position of demon king...
Anyone strong enough to defeat him deserved to gain the position of demon king.
Ludwig looked like it was strange and Elaine nodded.
“It is like that. Chris can’t become demon king, so I am thinking of supporting 9th Prince.”
He was someone who the demon king found special. He had caused the demon king to take such actions.
"But as you know, the demon king has a few more wives and they probably know the demon king as well as I do. The 3rd Queen... I wonder about Sylvia’s reaction. She might get on the same carriage as us.”
The princess of the dark elves, Sylvia Doomblade, didn’t belong to any of the factions. Just like her children Silvan and Felicia, she was known for avoiding involvement in all matters related to the demon king.
However, it wasn’t because the dark elves were weak. She was like the previous Elaine — she simply didn’t want to take the risk on a low gamble.
It was the same with Ludwig.
"I don’t think it is too bad to take a step back.”
"That might be the case. Maybe I am taking a risk, but I believe the future in which the 9th Prince becomes the demon king is the best for us.”
This was because it was impossible to establish a good relationship with any of the other demon king candidates.
Elaine looked out the window again. She gazed at a distant place and recalled Caitlin. She whispered in a slight voice,
"The Demon World is a world of the strong... Eventually, everything will go according to the will of the strongest. I also like this fact.”
The carriage moved forward. The palace of the lycanthropes wasn’t far away.
The afternoon that In-gong and Caitlin woke up, Chris left the royal house and headed to the palace.
And the next morning, In-gong also left the house with his party. The direction was the opposite of the one that Chris headed in.
They travelled together with lycanthrope soldiers until they passed the lycanthropes’ territory. Once outside the territory, only one lycanthrope ranger joined as a guide.
His name was Robin and he was a wild boar lycanthrope. Robin was a competent ranger who had almost all of the western area’s terrain in his head. He was also the male companion who would help restore the gender balance of In-gong’s group after Caitlin and Seira joined.
‘There is something wrong.’
While the male to female ratio was extremely unbalanced, this was common to see in novels, cartoons, movies, games, animations and so on. However, the most popular person wasn’t the protagonist but the person next to him.
Carack was sitting talking to Karma and Daphne while occasionally looking into Seira’s and Delia’s eyes. In-gong then turned his attention to Caitlin and Felicia. The two of them were sleeping on each other, in a loving display of a sibling relationship.
A warm smile formed involuntarily on his face as he gazed at the two of them, then he touched the seat of the carriage he was riding. Chris had given them a carriage that was very big, durable and cozy.
'Maybach would be good right now.’
He had left the draco at the Demon King’s Palace. If he had known that they would keep moving after Thunderdoom Fortress, In-gong would’ve brought him.
In-gong finally glanced at Robin who was sitting next to Seira. He looked uncomfortable about sitting in the carriage and opened up awkwardly when he felt In-gong’s gaze on him.
"Once we reach the Twin Bridge, we’ll have to get down from the carriage and walk. 9th Prince should rest right now.”
"I’ve been sleeping too much over the last few days. What about Spider Forest? Have you been there before?”
He really didn’t feel like sleeping.
Robin nodded to In-gong’s question and replied,
"I was there six months ago. My overall impression is that it is very calm. It is a very peaceful place because there are no beasts or monsters nearby. It is a little bit different if we enter deep into Spider Forest... but the area near the road will be smooth.”
It was quite a good story. Even in In-gong’s memory, Spider Forest hadn’t had have any events. It was a peaceful land without any monsters or incidents.
‘A peaceful place.’
Then three days later, the party arrived at Spider Forest to hear the cries of beasts, the roars of monsters and a terrible aura covering the whole forest.
Robin was greatly confused but the rest of the party was different. Carack gazed at In-gong and he looked back with the same expression.
In-gong stuttered and Carack gave a long sigh. Felicia laughed bitterly like she had expected it.
Caitlin held In-gong’s hand and spoke in a warm voice like she was trying to comfort him, instead of condemn him.
“Shutra is indeed amazing.”
Was this a comfort or an instant kill?
In-gong stared at the Spider Forest.