Chapter 10 – Ruri’s Handkerchief
Our first meeting with the Demon King has failed. Well yeah, he was more of a shut-in than I imagined… Is it social anxiety? I wondered. For now, after leaving the Demon King’s Castle, Lusha and I went to the inn.
We took a bath at a public bathhouse, finished dinner, and decided to have a strategy meeting in my room. I sat on the bed, Lusha on a chair.
“I never thought the Demon King was that kind of a person!”
“Honestly, I couldn’t say a word. He didn’t look scary at all.”
“He was more like a frightened child… or that’s the impression I got, at least.”
“Yeah, I felt the same.”
The Human King constantly demanded the Demon King be defeated.
“But I want to get along with the Demon King, and get some information… We have to do something about it.”
It didn’t seem like he knew a lot since he was still young, but there was a possibility he could become our foothold and give us some kind of clue on how to return to Japan. I couldn’t think of a better way, so I told Lusha my idea.
“Since he’s still a kid, why don’t we try to buy him something tasty?”
“That might be good! I wonder if he’ll be happy with sweets?”
“Alright then, shall we bring some of that tomorrow?”
◆ ◆ ◆
We filled in the shop fairy on our plan, so they were already prepared for us to enter the castle; we only needed to show our adventurer’s guild card and they let us inside. We went straight to the courtyard where the Demon King usually was.
By the way, we also bought fried confectionery as a souvenir, since it was on sale. I hoped he would like it, so… oh, he was actually in the courtyard when we showed up. [TLN: I’m not sure about the food’s name to be honest, the kanji for it is 揚げ菓子 so please tell us if you know what it means.]
It looked like he was petting the Pakaloo, and somehow, it was pleasant to see.
“Ah, when you see him like that, he doesn’t seem like a Demon King at all.”
Lusha smiled next to me as she watched the Demon King and the Pacaloo.
“Yeah, he looks more like a normal kid who loves animals. Since we want to talk to him, this seems like perfect timing, but…”
If we were to suddenly call out and surprise him, I was sure he’d go back to his room. I wanted to avoid that, so I racked my brain for some kind of breakthrough. Lusha reacted as though she found something, tilting her head and pulling my shirt to get my attention.
“Hiroki, isn’t the Demon King’s handkerchief the same one you gave to the shop fairy?”
“Huh? Hey, you’re right, that’s Ruri’s handkerchief!”
The handkerchief the Demon King currently held was one Ruri originally gave me. It’s an elegant handkerchief with delicate lace, and it’s a rare thing in this world where civilization still isn’t well-developed.
It went from my hand to the shop fairy, but from there, it went to the Demon King. Ruri, I bet you never would have guessed the leader of the demons would come to hold your handkerchief.
The Demon King noticed and looked at us, perhaps because we made a little noise. My shoulders stiffened, and I looked at his handkerchief, which he apparently really liked. That was an opportunity for a conversation-starter.
“That handkerchief was originally mine, a gift from my friend. I traded it to the Shop Fairy later. I’m glad you’re taking good care of it.”
“Was it… really?”
Alright, we’ve got a conversation! I mentally pumped my fist in success and felt more gratitude towards Ruri, because her handkerchief gave me an opportunity to talk with the Demon King.
“I’m sorry, I’m not a suspicious person! I greeted you yesterday, I’m an adventurer ― an evasion Healer ― Hiroki.”
The Demon King tilted his head. I couldn’t see his expression because of his long bangs, but I was sure he thought it incomprehensible. That’s no surprise, I’ve gotten used to how people react to my build. [ED: Took him long enough…]
“An Evasion Healer is a vanguard-type Healer. Avoid monsters, and allow the rearguard to attack. So my job is to kite the monsters without getting hit while keeping the rearguard healed and protected.”
The Demon King nodded at my explanation. Apparently, he understood the purpose of an Evasion Healer. I was pretty happy about that; for once I wasn’t denied before I could explain everything. The first time I talked about being an evasion Healer, I was thrown in jail, after all.
With that, the Demon King had shown his open-mindedness and walked over.
“…Our name is Tito Apricot. We spoke to the Shop Fairy yesterday.” (T/N: He’s using “we” to call himself.)
“Oh, I see.”
Our conversation started off normally, and I rested my hand on my chest in relief. It seemed to be the same for Lusha, and she bowed deeply and introduced herself again, same as yesterday. It looks like we’ll be able to talk a little more now.
“U-uhm, Lusha and I came from the Piznutt Kingdom.”
I originally thought of starting with our circumstances, but the Demon King went silent again ― ah, I see. The king of Piznutt was the person who summoned us with the intention of making us defeat this very person. I’m sure the Demon King knows that, so when I say I came from such a place, obviously he’d feel uneasy about it.
I panicked and blurted out “I’m not your enemy!” while shaking my head nervously.
“I know that. The Shop Fairy wouldn’t bring us people who are harmful.”
The Demon King didn’t seem to consider us enemies, but he didn’t look at us with good will or anything, either. Rather, he used a much firmer tone than you’d expect from one his age, and he didn’t have the atmosphere of a shut-in anymore, except for his appearance. He gently patted the Pakaloo and then continued.
“…Anyway, were you told to persuade me to make an announcement ceremony?”
“I know about it, so it’s okay. I don’t mind.”
Apparently, all of the Shop Fairy’s plans had been predicted by the Demon King. However, I couldn’t back down from here because I wanted the information the king had. When I was wondering what to do, Lusha called out to the Demon King.
“Actually, we brought a souvenir for the Demon King. Hey, Hiroki.”
Right, I completely forgot about that. I nodded and presented the bag of the fried confectionery in my hand to the Demon King.
“I don’t know if they suit your taste ― they’re sweet confections. I still didn’t say anything about the announcement ceremony, so why don’t we talk a little bit about it if you like…?”
“…Well, it’s fine if it’s just a little.”
“Thank you very much.”
We successfully got permission to, with an invitation, enter the tower where the Demon King lived. It seemed more like a children’s playground than a Demon King’s room.
The light hanging on the ceiling was lit by a star-shaped piece of ore, and this spacious room overflowed with a variety of dolls (which included animal shapes), mysterious magic tools, and board games. There was a table and a sofa; the table had a basket with fruits and sweets on it.
It was truly an amazing room.
At the same time, I thought, Could it be that? And an idea came to mind to test it.
“Demon King ― no, Tito-sama, what do you usually spend your time on?”
“…I’ve been playing games all the time.”
“That’s great… Oops! I accidentally said that out loud!!”
I only intended to say that with my inner voice, but my mouth was already open. It was kind of a rude tone to use. When my eyes met the Demon King’s orange ones, peeking through the gaps in his bangs, he asked a question.
“Have you been playing games, too?”