Chapter 108: Sometimes the better negotiator isn’t the one who can keep his cool, it’s the one who can make the other lose it faster.
Hyde-kun seems to be going through an internal panic, but I’m fairly confident that releasing my MP was the correct move in this situation.
The demons in front of me have all turned pale, each of them looking at me with some degree of terror.
The older woman has attempted to shield the younger girl’s body away from me with her own.
Finally, the older demon frowns, the lines deepening in his face, and said,
“You’re the noble from Carnus who waltzed into town earlier.”
My smile widens.
The younger man seems terrified, like he wants to swallow his own tongue.
It seems my earlier assumptions weren’t a~ll wrong.
Humans are definitely oppressing the demons.
However, is it a willing subservience? As of now, I feel like I’ve heard both sides, with the rebellious undertones coming from the younger group of demons.
“And just what do you want for your mana? Blackmail? A chance to accuse us of assaulting you in order to raise up trouble? We don’t need your help.”
The older man sneered.
Humm… well, I expected as much.
It seems like negotiations won’t go smoothly, even if the demon girl is on the brink of death.
Because of her situation, even I would prefer us to reach a good deal sooner rather than later.
It can’t be helped. Shameless-mode, on.
“If you already know who I am, then don’t you think that I wouldn’t have to do something as troublesome as fabricating a valid reason in order to accuse all of you and cause trouble?”
Aah …their blood pressures shot through the roof in an instant.
“I could easily give you trouble just by saying a few words whenever I feel like it.”
“…Are you threatening us?”
The older man asked, sullenly.
“Threatening? Why? It’s the truth, after all.”
The fact that they don’t refute my statement tells a lot about their situation.
I sigh, as if I’m tired of wasting time (although, I am concerned about how much time this is taking), and say,
“Anyway, it’s not like I’m asking for that much. I’m not after anything other than information.”
“You think you can get us to reveal the secrets of this town, or the farms? The companies? You’re better off asking surface-dwelling servants, not demons. We’re never told anything.”
I expected as much.
I waved my hand and gave a sniff.
“I could get it out of the people concerned myself, if that was all I needed. I’m more concerned about information about demons.”
Oh. Instead of angry, sullen, suspicious looks, they’re suddenly staring at me with blank faces.
“…You’re a noble, and from Carnus, no less. How can you be without information about demons. I can’t accept this deal. What are you truly planning?”
“Haa… although you seem to be quick at gathering information, it seems the quality of your information is rather lacking. Indeed. I am a noble from Carnus, but I am an honorary noble, originally from a country that has had little to do with demons. Although I am in fact human, as a diplomat, how can I accept one side without hearing from the other?”
Although I’m not a diplomat.
“I’m curious about the demons’ country, about why some of you would come here, to Orelia, and why most of you willingly subject yourselves to this kind of treatment. Do you think I can understand that from a human or beastkin’s standpoint?”
“Hmph, and so, this situation came about. How convenient for you. May I ask what you would have done if Hiwot hadn’t collapsed in the middle of the road?”
The older demon is clearly a head above the others here.
I smiled, stretching my hands out in a shrug.
“It’s purely a coincidence. If I hadn’t happened across you lot at this time, naturally I would have to think of other means. There are other things to negotiate with. If the life of that girl isn’t enough, there are quite a few things I’m capable of providing, such as wealth, assistance, or even rare materials – although I will say that I have limited knowledge in what your people would find sufficient as equal compensation.”
Although, please choose the girl.
I mean, seriously. Although I’m good at playing the megalomaniac, it doesn’t mean I particularly enjoy it.
Also, if they want something more than the life of that girl, I’ll be somewhat concerned over whether they’ll be decent deal-partners.
“I can’t trust you. To risk your life for such inconsequential information? No. I can’t accept.”
“Risk my life? Whatever do you mean?”
At that, the younger man burst out, saying,
“That’s right, it’s not magic power she needs, it’s mana-! So how about now? Do you think you can do it now?!”
Whether it’s mana or MP… I mean, with the rate of my mana=MP regeneration, even if you drained me almost dry, I could probably recover in a couple seconds.
Jun-kun says it gives you kind of a sick, black-out feeling, as if you’ve run too hard and are about to pass out… well, at any rate, I’m pretty confident …
Let’s ask just to be sure.
“Hoh-. Mana draining, is it? Would it kill a normal person?”
“Even if it won’t, you won’t be able to use magic for at least a dozen moons. Can you really afford THAT?”
The young man demon sneered at me, as if expecting me to turn tail, but if that’s all…
“Such a thing. I can afford it.”
“Even if you can afford it, we can’t. To cause a noble of Carnus to lose his magic for a dozen moons is not something our community can manage.”
The older man said with a scowl.
I can’t help but smirk.
“Do you think I’m incapable of measuring the value of things on my own discernment? I fear you are quite misguided. I’m quite certain that what I’m asking for is a fair trade.”
Finally, the older man begins to show signs of wavering.
Okay, that’s all I can do. It’s up to him now.
To tell the truth, if you look at the effort I need to give, it’s quite unfair to them.
But even if it’s leftovers, a starving person will value handouts much more greatly.
The older woman tugged at the older man’s trouser cuffs, and he blew out a breath of air.
Her pleading, tired, and sorrowful face seems to have broken him down.
“Let it be on your head! I wash my hands of this. If anything happens, I won’t protect you.”
The older man threw up his hands in exasperation before shaking a finger at the woman and separating himself from their group.
“Can I assume we negotiated a deal, then?”
“Do whatever you want!”
I quickly step over to the girl, ignoring the woman who flinched as I approached.
“What should I do-“
Before I could say anything, the girl suddenly opened her eyes wide and lunged at me, seizing onto my neck with her hands and bringing her forehead to the hollow of my throat.
I now realize the older woman was probably actually holding her down to keep her from attacking me.
If I didn’t know it before, I’ve been very clearly shown that demons are the predators here.
Her eyes were freaking terrifying-!
I feel an uncomfortable pressure, like something is being extracted from the pit of my stomach, up my esophagus, and out the base of my throat.
I was prepared for a sudden fit of dizziness or a blackout, but all I felt was that uncomfortable pressure.
… My MP regeneration is such a cheat.
As she’s doing whatever she’s doing, I look at my [Status], and my MP has been reduced about 5-10MP, fluctuating between a few points.
Keep in mind, this is with Jun-kun’s rings still on, continuously sucking my MP away.
When the demon girl finally had her fill, her face flushed red, she moaned and fell backwards, as if exhausted, and the older woman caught her.
The other demons’ faces have turned somewhat blue.
They were probably expecting me to black out or feel dizzy or … whatever it is that happens, but clearly, none of that happened.
I can’t help but smile thinly.
“As I said, if it’s to this degree there’s no problems. Like this, it’s clearly a fair deal, correct?”
The older man could only gulp and nod.
After arranging to meet them at a later date, I separated from the demons.
It seems like the girl had been frenzied the last few days and had broken out of her house to ‘hunt’ tonight.
When I had happened across them, she was at her limit and would go into a coma within the next day before her life force would drain out and she’d die.
As I headed back to the inn, I gained a walking partner.
Hyde-kun was following me, a few steps behind, with his brows furrowed together.
I can somewhat guess what he’s thinking.
Finally, Hyde-kun broke the silence and asked,
“You… were you going to let that girl die if they didn’t agree to it?”
I can feel Hyde-kun’s disapproving glare at me.
Haa… and he was just beginning to open up to the rest of us.
To be honest, I don’t really care about being misunderstood by those demons, but when it’s your allies, it’s a bit…
“Was I supposed to force them to let me heal her?”
I said, a little irritably.
“It’s better than letting her die,”
Hyde-kun responded, just as irritably.
“Perhaps from a humanitarian standpoint, you’re correct. Heal her up and to hell with the consequences. But just remember, although I hold the title, you and the rest are also part of my House, and are also Carnus nobles.”
“So what? We’re not in Carnus right now, and we snuck out so the guards didn’t even know we were there. We’re not even in a Labyrinth City, so the City Cores can’t track us down.”
Or like, Jun-kun disabled the tracking somehow.
I am quite literally only a noble because my name is listed on the City Core of the Carnus Capital, now.
The Core does nothing for or to me.
Ah, except in a City Purge of the Capital, then I and the people I’ve listed in my House would not be forcibly evacuated.
A pretty subtle benefit(?).
By the way, although it should have made a huge ruckus when Jun-kun directly tampered with an ancient contract magic that’s as old as the Labyrinths and the Capital’s Core Keeper notified the King that my tracking beacon no longer worked, everyone just assumed it’s because my magic screwed with the Core Sync, so it was treated as an unfortunate accident.
Of course there were some people who made a fuss, but in the end the benefits of being our allies overruled their arguments.
Being too overt with our ‘collaring’ would have adverse effects, ne~? A wise decision, King of Carnus.
But really, kid’s who don’t understand the full situation are…
“Then, Hyde-kun, imagine if an American diplomat got robbed in Japan before he returned to America. How do you think the Japanese heads of state would react?”
Not expecting such a question, Hyde-kun wrinkled his brows.
He finally said,
“They’d be worried about the terms of reparation, correct?”
“And say America didn’t immediately pursue those discussions for longer than was usual, then how would our Japanese leaders feel?”
“They’d be worried what America was planning to get out of … I get it.”
Hyde-kun obediently nodded, but he still had a dissatisfied look.
“In this case, rather than any kind of obligations as a Carnus noble, it’s my status as a Carnus noble that’s troubling. Moreover, a human. It’s unlikely that they’d be able to trust any sort of selfless action on my part, much less if I forcibly induced a favor from them. Certainly, Hiwot would be alive, but at what cost? Not even knowing when I’d come back for that ‘cost’, wouldn’t they feel more dead than alive?”
“Even if we didn’t do anything to them? Or even if we just left and found a farm at another village and never came back?”
Hyde-kun is seriously asking.
“Hm… it’s hard to tell how neurotic someone can get just with the first meeting, but that older man seems to be in charge of the demons in this town. I can’t imagine he’s foolish enough to risk all of their lives just for one girl. Don’t forget, they were apparently ready to throw her life away from the very beginning.”
Hyde-kun went silent for a moment.
“… Sei-chan, I don’t get it. Why would they come here, to the humans’ world, and let themselves be treated so badly, even to the extent that some of their children will die?”
These demons crossed over from their world to this one.
As beings who survive by feeding off the people in our world, you would think they’d be more like predators.
Even if the countries moved against them, well, in Japan there were stories about vampires and other monsters who hid themselves and hunted carefully at night time and all of that.
Instead of doing that, the demons subject themselves to menial labor and poor treatment, even refusing to do something as natural as eating in order to keep from antagonizing what should be their prey – to the point that some of them starve to death.
Although I should be reassured that they don’t view us, who are on the side of the prey, as mere food, I can’t help but see them as being in a pitiable sort of state.
I sigh and say,
“Well, that’s what we intend to find out.”
<A/n: We all know Jun would’ve just been like, screw you guys, save the girl anyway, and then bully convince them into just accepting it. And they’d actually feel like thanking her somehow.
Btw, why do I feel like there are a lot of things that are Jun ex machina? Is it just my imagination?
First of all, thanks for all of your support this entire time. Seriously, thanks.
And … I suck at monthly updates, so … screw that. It’s unfair to you guys and a pain in the ass for me (the reason I didn’t do patreon for a long time was because I had a feeling I’d fail at monthly updates), so I’m just going to upload everything I have now, and then any new stuff as they come, and you will just get access to everything in your tiers immediately.
I also switched some reward tiers around, so do check out the
again and make any changes you feel necessary.
(Also, Rank S’ers, there’s a quick update in REWARD DETAILS on some details for Recommending Characters. Nothing major, just a minor addendum; it doesn’t change the actual reward. Also, R.L., I will get in contact with you soon about the details. Just been a bit busy with moving stuff around…)
Also check the
QUEST REWARDS INDEX
if you want to make sure you didn’t miss any scrapped fictions.
Since there’s a lot, I’ll be continuing to upload this batch of stuff until end of June(2018), which will include some new, although fragmented and utterly dropped, fiction, and a tutorial on how to use d&d to trouble-shoot your original characters for Rank B and above.