The Doting Mother and the Demon King
When the golden petals of light cleared, Canary appeared… But it wasn’t only her, there was also Shirley and the three rookie adventurers stepping out from behind her.
“W-We’re already here?”
“And this ‘here’, is it…?”
“Indeed. Welcome to my homeland.”
After taking the request from Shirley, the three of them had joined her and Canary as the latter used spatial magic to instantly take them across international borders.
The Land of Demons was located in the farthest northern reaches of the continent and was much cooler than the Kingdom in the south, so even though it was still summer there was a cool breeze blowing down from the peaks of the mountains nearby. The most eye-catching part was the rich and vibrant cityscape stretching out in front of them.
“I heard that this country didn’t have great relationships with others, so… I was wondering if it would be a bit more rustic, but that doesn’t seem like the case?”
“Yeah. This place is like a big city or something.”
There were tall buildings that were well constructed from marble, stone and timber arranged beautifully in terms of both form and function on either side of immaculately kept streets, whilst the citadel that dominated the center of the city stood in stark contrast to the stately and decorative palaces of the Kindom and Empire’s capital cities, instead those high walls truly made it seem like a formidable defensive structure.
“There’s not just demons around either? Look, there’s people from other races too.”
About nine in ten of the people they saw walking the streets of the Land of Demons’ capital had those horns sprouting from their heads. However, just like Leia said, there were beastfolk with the heads of dogs as well as human beings. There were elves and dwarves here and there as well. It might even be more diverse than the population of the Kingdom.
“Everything is so different from the Kingdom, so I’m a little excited to be able to see a foreign country like this. When we were in the Imperial Capital, we didn’t really have time for sightseeing… Huh?”
The three rookie adventurers from out in the sticks of the Kingdom were completely out of their element in this big foreign city. To any onlookers, they might have looked like kids out on a school trip with the way they gawked.
Whilst Shirley looked like the eldest member of a bunch of kids, Kyle found himself stopping and staring at one shop in particular. Judging by the signboard, it seemed like a shop that sold sweets.
“…Canary’s Confections… What?”
“It is a confectionary that uses my likeness to decorate its goods, what of it?”
“Something like that really exists!?”
“Fuhahahahaha! Now then, perhaps I should have one after such a long absence! Shopkeep! Bring me one of everything on the menu that bears my visage!”
“Ahh, if it isn’t Canary-sama! It has been some time.”
Apparently, the locals were already quite familiar with her. As the Golden Witch bought a whole bunch of baked goods either cut into the shape of her face or with her looks iced onto them, she held them up to Kyle as if to show off with a smirk.
She held a wide variety of sweets in her arms, like chocolates or doughnuts packed with custard cream. All the bags were imprinted with a brand logo that was basically just Canary’s face.
“Indeed! It still tastes just as delicious seven hundred years later! As much as I adore the new frontiers of candy and sweets, there is something to be said for the taste of home!”
“Wow… They look delicious.”
The three young adventurers, especially Leia, looked enviously at Canary who held a bulging armful of delicious looking snacks with her face on them.
…For a normal adult, this would be about the time where you would show a little generosity to your juniors. After all, she had purchased so much that it didn’t seem possible to cram it all in that tiny belly of hers. Although they didn’t try and ask her directly, their eyes said it all as they hoped that she would find some kindness in that heart of hers.
“Hm? Why are you staring at me in such a way? Every last thing I bought at Canary’s Confections was for myself, you know? If you wish to eat something then you can buy it yourself, hm~? Shopkeep, throw out all the Canary branded sweets and even the ingredients! No one else is allowed to purchase any today!”
“Wait!? Didn’t you just say we should buy some ourselves!?”
But, had she really meant it? Au contraire, in fact, she simply smirked in self-satisfaction as Kyle opened his mouth in protest.
“Kuhahahahahaha! Ah, is it not pure bliss to use power and wealth merely to see the pained faces of others!? Why, you say? Why ever not!? I merely wish to enjoy my meal whilst looking at the desperate faces of you all! AhahahBUHAAAa!?”
“Stop being childish around children.”
As Canary boasted unashamedly about her financial strength, Shirley clobbered her over the back of the head with the scabbard of her sword, showing off her physical strength instead.
Trying to salvage something of their trust in adults, Shirley bought the three of them something each from Canary’s Confections. They kept walking on towards the castle as they ate.
“I never expected that she would have her face on sweets like that. She might be well known in the Kingdom, but that’s more for her bad reputation.”
“Certainly in other countries… And especially the Empire, Canary is seen as a vindictive and evil witch by most people, but in the Land of Demons she’s something of a war hero. So, it makes sense that she gets some special treatment.”
Almost a millennia ago, the demon race clashed against every other race that populated the continent in a brutal large-scale war. Even today, the heroes and villains of that war were still remembered in book and song, since that war was the biggest to ever sweep the continent.
One of the key figures that put an end to that bloody conflict was Canary herself. Although the demon race were all more magically gifted on average than the other races, it was foolhardy for the long-lived yet relatively much less fertile race to declare war on the world. As their numbers dwindled more and more over the course of the long war, she had become the saviour that saved the demonic race from the brink of extinction.
“Since she’s a historical figure here, there are even souvenir shops and popular monuments about her. Just like in the tourist cities of the Kingdom and in the Trading Country, where there are steamed buns with the face of the historical hero General Daedalus as well.”
“Woah… That is pretty interesting.”
“By the way, the one who proposed all the confections was yours truly. I wanted to see what would happen if I spread the sweets that were in vogue in the Trading Country to this continent.”
“By the way, didn’t Shirley-san enter that souvenir shop earlier? I didn’t think she’d be interested in that kind of thing.”
“I usually only take requests near town, so when I go on far off requests I make sure to take the opportunity to buy a souvenir for my daughters back home.”
“I see, that was pretty obvious, huh?”
Although everything around them was complete foreign, Shirley herself hadn’t changed at all.
As their conversation continued, it naturally moved on to the request they had taken on.
“So, this guy aiming for the Princess, the《Phantom Thief》, is he really going to show up? She must be really well guarded, right? Shirley-san and the Guild Master are here too as well.”
“Now then, there are still many a mystery about how that man operates, so our best course of action was to bring in some trusted talent. Naturally, I am pulling as many of my connections as possible, yet… Not knowing where that one person is still causing me some worry.”
“Worry? What do you mean, exactly?”
“To be blunt, this is not a man that even Shirley can match alone in a melee.”
Kyle, Leia and Cudd’s eyes inadvertently moved to gaze at Shirley, who was looking through the window of a souvenir shop.
Killing a dragon king. Slicing a castle in half with a single swing of a sword. In a one on one battle in close quarters, it was hard to believe that there was anyone that could be her match.
” There is also the《Black Saintly Spear》, Marion. Even before she became renowned as the Demonic White Sword, he was already a living legend, wielding his spear in martial bouts and on the frontline of parties. Even now he is still more famous than our taciturn Shirley, but we cannot help that she puts other things before glory. As for the《Phantom Thief》, I had never truly considered him a threat until now, so he was never atop my list of priorities… Ah, we’ve arrived.”
The party reached the castle gates. As they approached the demon soldiers that stood guard outside, Canary sidled up to them cheerily as if she were visiting a friend’s house.
“If it isn’t Canary-sama? We have already heard the story from His Majesty.”
“Indeed. These are the four adventurers from my correspondence. I leave the rest in your care.”
“Huh? Are you not coming with us, Guild Master?”
Canary turned her back on them and began to return into the city.
“All that yours truly needed to do this time was accompany all of you to the castle… Simply showing my face was enough. I am quite occupied, you know? When your rendezvous with the Demon King is over, I shall return.”
With those last words leaving her lips, Canary disappeared in a flash of golden magic. As soon as that happened, the gates opened with a heavy creaking, revealing a tall demon in a tailcoat that seemed to be much older than the stationed guards.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting. I am the one given the honour to serve as the chamberlain to His Highness the Demon King’s castle. I shall guide you all to where His Highness will be receiving you now, so please follow me.”
Following the chamberlain, Shirley and the others entered the grounds of the Demon King’s castle.
Between the outer walls of the castle proper, there weren’t any decorations such as statues, trees or beds of flowers to liven up the grounds at all, merely a grass lawn that stretched around the perimeter and a simple red brick path that led to the doors.
“Woaaah~… This castle’s huge…!”
“I wonder how many times my house would fit inside here?”
“How do you even manage a place like this…? The rent would be crazy too…”
Those three expressed their stark opinions as common people.
The biggest buildings they had ever seen when living in the frontier town were the school or the adventurers guild. This was the first time they had ever seen a building where they would have to crane their necks to even see the top of it.
“Don’t just look, keep on moving.”
However, for Shirley, who was once a noblewoman and the betrothed of the Crown Prince, castles and palaces weren’t anything novel to her. As Kyle and the others stood around gawking like tourists, she jostled them onwards through the doors of the massive castle.
As they followed the chamberlain in silence for a few minutes, they saw groups of demon soldiers drilling and practicing. They were beginning to wonder if they were ever going to reach this meeting, or just end up lost in the maze of corridors and hallways.
“Ohhhhh Grimhilda-tan, SO MOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!”
Then, a roar that shook through the castle reached Shirley’s ears.
As they looked around to see where that insanely loud sound had come from, they saw a bench behind them with hundreds of photos stacked high on top of it, and carefully inserting them one by one into a massive book with a pristine leather binding was a huge demon with black horns and silver hair running down his back.
Shirley immediately knew what that was with her keen intuition. That massive demon, who looked like he was going through some mental anguish, was delicately pasting photos into the album. His appearance reminded her of when she was doing the exact same thing the day before.
“Y-Your Majesty!? What are you doing in such a place!? We have guests, so shouldn’t you be doing this kind of thing in your room…!?”
“Ahhh, leave me be!! Do you not know that it has already been three days since my daughter left the castle!? If I do not replenish my daughter energy somehow, then my brain shall leak out of my ears!!”
It wasn’t just appearance, either. Shirley somehow felt a strange sense of kinship. Just how much did that musclebound demon and the sword demon have in common? Kyle, meanwhile, questioned the chamberlain with a shaky voice.
“U-Umm… Just now you said ‘Your Majesty’, so by any chance is that loud guy…”
“……….Unfortunately, you are in the presence of His Majesty, the Demon King Zector Eisen-Quartz.”
“This guy’s the Demon King!?”
What was this sense of deja-vu? There was a big difference in the way they behaved, but he gave off a familiar feeling to the woman who stood beside them.
“His Highness heavily dotes on Princess Grimhilda… So he is quite often like this.”
“W-Well… I kinda get it after knowing Shirley-san for a while, since she’s always talking about how her daughters are even prettier than her.”
“Shirley-san even says that Sophie and Tio are the cutest things in the world, right?”
Shirley snorted slightly with pride as she said that. No matter how pretty the Demon King’s daughter may be, for Shirley, there was no existence on earth that could match the loveliness of her daughters.
She didn’t intend to turn it into some sort of competition, though. It just wasn’t in Shirley’s character and she didn’t want to push her views onto people like some kind of bigot.
“My daughter has already been decided as the cutest existence in the world.”
And just who are you to decide that? That was the question the Demon King Zector seemed to be asking Shirley, as he said those words as clearly as if he were dictating the natural laws of the universe.
Shirley’s back straightened up as she looked squarely at him with a cold and serious face. Kyle and the others panicked when they saw that ominous expression she wore.
“A-Are we talking about whose child is the cutest!? I dunno if we can really join in yet since we aren’t married yet, riiight!?”
“T-That’s right! Besides, I think whatever you feel in your heart is the most important thing! There’s no point in trying to compete when it comes to personal preferences, right!?”
“…Of course, I’m well aware. To parents, their children are always the cutest. It is meaningless to compare whether one child is better or worse than anoth-”
“Even if we compare, my daughter is the greatest in the world.”
Even though they tried so hard to calm the situation down, Zector said something completely unnecessary.
Shirley’s shoulders trembled as she stood in rigid silence.
“M-My deepest apologies! When it comes to Her Highness, His Majesty often… Acts strangely…”
“S-Shirley-san, calm down! He’s the King of a whole country!”
“…Don’t worry, there won’t be any problems. It’s a fool’s game to compare daughters from other families, so I will-”
“No matter what kind of comparisons you wish to draw, Grimhilda is the best daughter in the world, in every way imaginable.”
Zector once again said something completely unnecessary, shattering their hopes for peace. There was no stopping it now, as Shirley moved like lightning to appear in front of Zector in an instant, her low rumbling voice sounding like it echoed from the pits of hell.
“The cutest girls in the world… Are obviously my daughters…”
200th chapter release on the blog (゜∀゜)